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Pick Up The Phone – How to Create Connection with Conversation


In combat, fighter pilots minimize radio communication to prevent information from being intercepted by the enemy. Instead, we used hand signals and flight maneuvers.

However, during emergencies, unsafe situations, or in the heat of battle, we throw all that aside and get on the radio to help our wingmen take action.

Today, we rely too heavily on texting, emails, and social media to communicate with others.  While these forms of “silent” communication can be effective, they take away from our ability to fully and authentically connect. After all, verbal communication does more than just pass on information.  It can relay emotion and impact one’s engagement with others.

Is your default communication style to text or email, or do you pick up the phone?

When was the last time you “key’d the mic” to communicate and connect with a new relationship or perhaps reconnect with an established one?

I challenge you to pick up the phone. Say hello, give a referral, share an introduction, or perhaps let that wingman or wingma’m know you appreciate them. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help them with a challenge they may be experiencing . . . and mean it!

It can make a huge difference in how you build trust and engagement with others and may even improve your sales. But most importantly, it will make you feel good.

Go ahead . . . pick up the phone.

Your Wingman, Waldo


Read the video transcript:

Welcome to this week’s mission briefing. I’m Waldo Waldman the wingman, decorated fighter pilot and author of the New York Times bestseller, Never Fly Solo. I want to talk today about something easy to do and easy not to do, communicate by picking up the phone.

In every fighter squadron, the key to our success was our ability to communicate openly, honestly, and often. We briefed our missions, we debrief down missions, we got together during seminars and had conversations every single day. Our egos were out of the way and we’re always wanting to grow to learn to become better than we were yesterday. Now in training and in particular in the heat of battle when we were airborne, we had to be very careful and disciplined on how we communicated. We couldn’t be on the radios that often because we didn’t want to give our position, at tactics, our communication away way to the enemy. So instead of communicating on the radios with our voices, we used the aircraft and hand signals to ask for action.

For example, this meant it’s time to do a battle damage check, we talked about in the past. This meant pitch out. This and then do an echelon turn. So bottom line, there were tons of different hand signals and aircraft maneuvers to get folks to do certain maneuvers. But ultimately, in particular in the heat of battle when we didn’t want to be confusing at all, and when time was a factor, we used the radio to communicate. We hit that button with our left hand and we commanded action. “Break left! Enemy, your six o’clock!” Or two, “You fallen out of position, push it up!” Or three, “You’re on fire, leaking fuel, declare an emergency. We’ve got to land at the nearest suitable airfield.” We were open, honest, and direct and communicated leveraging the most important communication tool there, is our voice.

How does this apply to you as top guns in sales, business, and operations and your squadrons? A few years back I went to a sales conference and the number one performing salesman said the key to his success was exactly this. He picked up the phone, he built relationships, he nurtured his prospects and clients and let them know with his heart and his voice that he wanted their business and would do everything he could to earn it and keep it.

In today’s day and age, it’s very easy to become numb to the convenience of email, to a text message, or leveraging some nonverbal communication type of technology, but if you truly want to elevate your game and nurture and solidify the relationship, having that conversation which leads to innovation can be key to your success. But also as you think about your teammates in your squadron, maybe the young millennials who are part of your team, or the new hires who were in the squadron, or maybe the veterans who’ve been around for a long time, taking the time to communicate with them over a cup of coffee, over lunch, picking up the phone with some the remote partners that maybe worked with you or for you, maybe even using some technology like a zoom call so that they can not only hear you…but see you… is a great way to build rapport and alleviate the potential distractions that an email or a text message can give.


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