International Window Film Conference Seminars Offer Lessons for LeadershipSeptember 21st, 2012 by Editor
This morning, Captain Richard Phillips shared his remarkable story and lessons for strong leadership as the keynote speaker. In April 2009, the world watched the ship captain who offered himself as a hostage to Somali pirates in order to protect the lives of his 20 crew members.
He began by highlighting to his rapt audience three key points he’d learned over the course of 33 years sailing and 23 years as captain:
- You are much stronger than even you know
- The only time that all is lost is when you chose to give up
- A dedicated professional team can overcome any obstacle
He began with a lesson to which any auto glass business owner could relate, the importance of the adage, “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.”
Phillips always told his crew he expected at some point they would be attacked by pirates, but felt they could handle it if they prepared. To improve that preparation, he went over the required quarterly security reports, springing a surprise drill on that voyage’s crew. They found problems that they discussed, and then generated new safety ideas as well. “There was some grumbling about the drill … but a few days later the crew was real glad we took some time to prepare for the worst,” he recalled.
That was when, on calm seas, a small ship with four armed pirates caught up to the ship, despite evasive maneuvers, and boarded Phillips’ ship.
At that moment, he and the crew knew they were responsible for getting themselves safely out of this situation. “At sea, you don’t get to pass the buck,” Phillips said. “At sea, you get to learn firsthand how strong you are.”
From the start, he guessed that the pirates weren’t as practiced in their task as his crew. His crew performed their safety procedures nearly flawlessly while the pirates lost their ladder and sank their boat in boarding.
That practice also meant that the crew stayed in the safe room when the captain was ordered to call them to the deck, because they didn’t hear the safe word.
Ultimately, Phillips said, he knew the “best way to protect my crew, my ship and my cargo – and myself – was to get the pirates off my ship.”
Phillips recounted the harrowing account of being held as hostage on a lifeboat with the four pirates, not expecting rescue but staying focused on keeping hope, and remaining the pirates’ “adversary rather than a passenger,” never becoming simply a hostage. As the pirates played mind games and withheld water, he remembered, “I don’t think anyone solved their crises at sea by being panicked.”
After four days as a hostage, Phillips was rescued by U.S. Navy Seals, who he calls the real heroes of the story.
He summarized his tale by sharing with his audience, “The one simple reason I’m here today … a dedicated team of professionals who did what it took.”
The International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off continues in Louisville, Ky., through Saturday, September 22, with more educational seminars and the opening of the Exhibition/Extravaganza. Stay tuned to windowfilmmag.com for updates straight from the show.