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Opening Keynote: JT Holmes

August 30, 2019

Presented by: JT Holmes, Airborne sports pioneer, stuntperson

Session Notes

Calm, cool, and collected, JT Holmes entered the stage stealthily while fail videos of his worst skiing wipeouts played on the big screen behind him. He greeted the crowd saying ”Who is this knucklehead?” and instantly had the attention of the room. He set the tone for the rest of the day, as a speaker who knows a lot about venturing into the unknown, but spoke to the crowd like a friend we’ve known our whole lives.

Exploring the Unknown

  • JT was excited to speak at the event because he knows a thing or two about exploring the unknown
  • Why do we explore the unknown? To arrive first. For fame, riches, glory? Hell yeah
  • This creates a zone of low-lying fruit, the glory days. In business, this looks like profit margins. In the high-risk activities that he pursues, he has safety margins
  • Skiing was a new technology in the ’90s and he rode the wave of the blossoming industry without risking his life
  • In 2002, he was introduced to a parachute

Base Jumping

  • JT made a base jump from a 500-foot bridge with no formal training and with a 20-minute briefing
  • Airborne sports are easy because gravity is certain!
  • Base jumping is the purest and unbridled form of acceleration
  • So he ventured into another form of the unknown - airborne sports
  • People called him crazy, but before he knew it he was at the forefront of human flight
  • “Am I recklessly lucky? Am I talented? No, you saw me ski.”
  • How did he do it without killing himself?

He Followed the Three Ds: Decide, Dissect, Deliver

  • Decide:
    • We all struggle with indecision, but leaders and experts make decisions Doubt kills performance
    • Doubt kills performance
    • Critical decisions must be aligned with core values. What motivates them? Food, shelter, sex, lifestyle, money, ego?
    • In 2009, he lost his best friend to a jump, but in the same year Michael Bay wanted him to help with filming wingsuit jumps off skyscrapers for Transformers 3
    • He was slightly conflicted, but his ego was tickled by seeing himself on the big screen (and so was his pocketbook)
    • There’s no room for a conflicted mind at the end of a cliff with a wingsuit
  • Dissect:
    • When you’re venturing into the unknown, you’re making tracks, not following them
    • By dissecting, you can make a path toward success through the unknown by breaking apart the objective
    • Strengths and weaknesses will resurface
    • In 2012, he decided to launch himself off of the Eiger Summit. For this, he had to break down each step of the speed ride. It took three years to orchestrate the jump
  • Deliver:
    • Every journey comes down to key and defining moments, and you must deliver under pressure
    • You need optimism
    • Imagine a pessimist on the edge of a building about to jump? What happens? Jump, doubt, splat!
    • Optimism also encourages resilience
    • He was once buried in an avalanche and, though knowing he could die in minutes, he was able to stay calm because he had optimism and hope, knowing that he had people who were coming to rescue him
    • Optimism also encourages enthusiasm; the desire to entertain, and the want to base jump or be in a Hollywood film

Key Takeaways

  • If you live by JT Holmes’ three Ds, you’ll win at life.
  • The one thing about exploring the unknown is that you don’t know what you’re gonna get so you need to act and think fast
  • He lives by his friend Bear Grylls’ Rule of 3s: We can go three weeks without food, three days without water, three minutes without oxygen…. But you must not go three seconds without thinking.
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