On this episode of the Massimo Show


Rod sits down with decorated former US Army Black Hawk Helicopter pilot and Motivational Speaker, Elizabeth McCormick.

Elizabeth flew command and control, air assault, rappelling, top-secret intelligence missions, and also transported high level government VIPs including the Secretary of Defense. She has received many awards in the army, and supported United Nations peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, receiving the Meritorious Service Medal for her excellence in service. In 2011, Elizabeth was awarded the US Congressional Veteran.

Elizabeth grew up in rural Michigan and went to an agricultural school with less than 50 students.  “I was a geek, shy just starting to play sports and trying to find out who I was.” Elizabeth recalls during her talk with Rod. “My mom worked 2 jobs and because I was playing sports, I would sometimes have to walk home 7 miles after practice.  At home, I would do my homework and read until early morning.” Because her school was so small, they needed people for almost every sport and Elizabeth stepped up where she was needed.

After being offered a volleyball scholarship for a D3 college – Siena Heights in Michigan- Elizabeth, an aspiring architect, went on to double major in art and math with an associates in engineering.  Eventually she had to stop playing volleyball because it interfered with her studies and subsequently gave up her scholarship as well.

In the last year of college Elizabeth met what she refers to as her “starter husband” a well-intentioned army bound young man whom she married in her final year of college. She followed him to small town Louisiana and found herself working in a pizza place. “That made me pissed off,” Elizabeth recalls candidly, “five years of college with student loans knocking at the door. I realized I couldn’t change my circumstances so I had to look at what I could change.  I realized if my husband could go in the military, so could I.”

Everything she went through after that decision was a matter of self-motivation. “If I don’t believe in me no one else is going to believe in me.” Elizabeth tells Rod. What seemed like a simple decision ended up being an extremely difficult life change. From the recruiter who didn’t know how to do the paperwork, to the flight doctor who called her a “little girl”, to the crew at the MEPS station who told her the test was going to be difficult, she faced adversity at every turn. It wasn’t until she got through the process and went through basic training to candidate school that she learned there were only 2 spots in the nation!  “If I had known that, I might not have been as confident.” she recalls. Despite her shy demeanor she was determined. “My mission to be who I wanted to be was more important than being shy… It is these situations that make you realize how much you have within you.”

Elizabeth notes that she was then and is often now driven by four distinct words:

Do you want this?  If you don’t believe this is going to happen, no one is going to.

Life Lessons Learned from Piloting: 

Every year as a pilot you have to prove yourself and show you are skilled in what you do.  After two years of flying you go to the pilot in command for a promotion. After my second year in Germany I was up for this promotion.  What you have to do is fly the map of the earth.   The instructor got lost.  I pushed myself because I realized you can’t depend on other people.  You are in the pilot seat. No matter what role you are in there is no autopilot.  We have to lead instead of follow.

5 truths to Leading yourself in Life

  • Potential
  • Implementation
  • Leadership (Communicate Aviate Navigate)
  • Optimal Performance
  • Tenacity

Business after the Military 

I would have still been in the military however, I was injured and offered a medical retirement and got out of the military right before 9/11.  This is when I got my first corporate job working as a warehouse inventory accounting and worked my way up to purchasing manager.  My last job I was a commodity and international contract negotiator.   I was broken.  I came out of the military physically and emotionally broken.  I was not ready to speak.    It was the community who found out I was a helicopter pilot that would ask me to speak at school or church events.  At every event I would speak at after I would get 5 more calls to speak elsewhere.  At this time, I am still working a corporate job so I am turning a lot of them down.  It wasn’t until someone said we will pay you.  In 2009, I was laid off.  And that is when I realized what I was supposed to be doing.  

Rod and Elizabeth round out the interview talking about the meaning of “SOAR” and how setbacks in life can lead to your greatest accomplishments in business ownership.



Elizabeth McCormick | Inspirational Speaker | Top Event Artist

Congressional Veteran Commendation recipient, Elizabeth McCormick travels the globe as a professional speaker, providing dynamic opening and closing keynotes at conferences, conventions, association meetings, and corporate events worldwide. With her unique messages, Elizabeth takes the challenges faced as a Black Hawk Helicopter pilot and Chief Warrant Officer for the United States Army and shares empowering, uplifting stories with relatable and actionable lessons.

  • Life Lessons learned from Piloting
  • 5 truths to leading yourself in life
  • 4 distinct words that Elizabeth was driven by
  • The meaning of SOAR