Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fiction Takes A Back Seat To Reality

Sometimes the title reveals very little about the story.

Every once in a while in your life you meet someone who is truly an astounding individual who has lived a life that you only read about in books or see in the movies (or in a beer commercial). And sometimes it takes a second meeting to realize how remarkable someone is. This was the case when Dr. Liann Francisco was invited back to our Rotary club as a presenter.

Liann is a woman who has lived two lives. After a successful career working with the government, primarily with the military but also included assignments with the Pentagon and US Marshall Service, she is now dedicating herself to electronic security and surveillance in the private sector. However, this was only the beginning of her entrepreneurial efforts as she has recently ventured into the field of aviation. I guess you could say she is revisiting the aviation industry but no one, at least anyone I know of, would pay to take a ride on Con Air (Liann was the engineer behind the design of the US Marshall’s primary method of air transportation… not the Nicholas Cage version).

Of course, you can’t accomplish as much as she had done and flipped her life upside down and inside out as many times as she has done without being a highly motivated and intellectually curious individual. Even in her spare time, Liann has pursued her pilot’s license, dive master certification, EMT certification, and is an USCG Boat Captain as well as a Black Belt in Tie Kwon Do. If that weren’t enough she is also an avid drummer and ham radio operator (if you don’t know what that is ask your parents or look it up).

I never knew all this when I first met Liann a few weeks ago when she came as a guest of our club’s president, Dr. Sherman Leis. We spoke a little about her former life working with the government and a little about her recent venture into aviation but nothing really beyond the type of conversation that one would have when first meeting another professional at a Rotary meeting for the first time. This is a perfect example of the fact that truly amazing people won’t say they are amazing… their brilliance only comes out when you take the time to get to know them.

This is also a prime reason why all clubs should welcome the people who accompany members to a meeting. Don’t let any preconceptions dictate reality. Great men and women are around us every day; it is up to us to discover their brilliance.

The same can be said for your fellow Rotarians any why it is so important for us all to give presentations not only about our professions but also about our passions and interests. We are quite the diverse group when you sit down and think about it and I have known many successful businesspeople in my life whose talents shown through in their other endeavors more so than their day to day jobs. Few people are able to combine the two, whether due to lack of courage, opportunity, or means, but sometimes you come across someone who has been able to do just that, someone like Liann.

It’s safe to say that she definitely gives the guy in the Dos Equis beer commercial a run for his money. Oh wait, that’s right, he isn’t real. It just goes to show that if you pay attention, get out there and meet people, you will find individuals that put fiction to shame.