#11: If Not Me, Then Who? Bringing Sustainable & Accessible Electric Flying Vehicles To Canada w/ JR Hammond, CEO & Founder of Canadian Air Mobility

Hello! I’m Julian and I’m a Gen Z entrepreneur, software engineer, and podcaster. I am the fusion of an ambitious entrepreneur, a tech whiz, a futurist, a productivity aficionado, and a self-improvement junkie.
I am currently a Software Engineer at Facebook and the Co-Founder & CTO at a startup named Vize. Previously, I have interned with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Goldman Sachs. Learn about me at www.julianalvarez.me

You can also find the transcript on this page by scrolling down

We walked into this space knowing that we are not going to solve all these problems ourselves. To succeed, we need to create space for the experts in these fields to run and have the resources available to solve the problems along with us.

– JR Hammond

If not me, then who? At an Uber Elevate Summit in 2018, JR realized that no one was taking initiative to bring flying cars to Canada. In a room filled with aviation experts, JR felt an overwhelming amount of imposter syndrome. Why would a 27 year old with almost no experience in aviation think he has what it takes to bring electric flying vehicles to Canada? However, JR realized how important the impact of this accomplishment would be, especially if he made the aircraft environmentally friendly and accessible to the entire population. Since no one was working to bring flying vehlicles to Canada, JR realized the opportunity and shifted his mindset from “why would I be the one to bring flying vehlicles to Canada?” to “If not me, then who?”

While he grew up in Calgary’s energy hydrocarbon center, his wanderlust led him to live in Toronto, Barcelona, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. As the travel bug was solidified within him, his divergent side on sustainability was unveiled. He’ll never forget the morning he woke up to smog so thick, he felt the sting in his lungs. His visceral reaction to the pollution awakened him to the consequences of conventional aircraft. 

JR Hammond is the 29-year-old CEO and Founder of Canadian Air Mobility (CAM) and the Executive Director of the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM). The consortium serves as the non-profit idea generator and CAM is the for-profit investment house that ensures these business opportunities evolve into revenue generating operations.

I really believe in the power of self-development. We can change the world when we start working on ourselvesWe have now tapped into new levels of knowledge and new levels of opportunity that we can take and use to expand beyond our conventional systems..

– JR Hammond

💬 Discussed in this episode…

  • Why JR became an entrepreneur despites its challenges and level of difficulty
  • What is CAM and the CAAM Consortium and why are they both necessary
  • The problem CAAM is solving, the key players and problems 
  • Why these flying vehicles must be environmentally friendly and inclusive and how CAAM achieves this
  • CAAM’s collaborative solution
  • What would the fulfillment of CAAM’s vision look like for the world 
  • JR’s initial fears, doubts or limiting beliefs and how he overcame and reframed them

What is the PROBLEM that CAAM is solving?

The Problem regarding sustainability: Conventional systems are not sufficient anymore. The aviation sector is accelerating our global footprint at the fastest rate and aircraft emissions are exponentially more harmful than ground emissions. 

The Problem regarding city infrastructure: We can’t stack or expand highways anymore to facilitate the natural movement of people, goods and services. With the rapid urbanization of cities worldwide, we lack the ground space needed. Cities are growing at accelerated rates and space is running out. Our additional transportation needs are growing faster than bridges and tunnels can be built. HOW MUCH SPACE PARKING LOTS TAKE

The Problem regarding traffic and human connectivity: The pandemic has proven that face-to-face interactions are irreplaceable in their value both for social and professional interactions. However, in the US, people that commute to work waste 54 extra hours a year in traffic delays. That’s almost a week and a half of work. In LA, which is the most congested area, commuters waste an average of 119 hours per year

🛠️ What is CAM and CAAM’s SOLUTION?

The CAAM aims to mobilize an industry towards a shared vision: developing aviation as the next shared transportation service.

For the first time in Canadian aviation history, the three levels of government, airports, operators, and new electric aircraft developers gathered to discuss expanding conventional routes through hydrocarbon powered aircraft.

The goal of CAAM is to build the necessary infrastructure needed for electric flying vehicles to be possible. They prioritize public perception, dealing with regulations, and ensuring public safety. This air metro concept is an intermodal (DEF) solution that equates to your local train, but via zero emissions aircraft. They’re ensuring inclusivity by challenging manufacturers to design the new zero emission aviation industry to be socioeconomically accessible and sustainable.

The CAM is the for-profit initiative that invests in electric flying vehicle companies. These flying vehicles are closer than they appear to becoming a reality and they are bound to disrupt transportation entirely by decongesting cities due to how much faster it will be to travel within a city. 

Canadian Air Mobility’s mission is to build an ecosystem of national collaboration towards a sustainable, equitable and profitable Advanced Air Mobility industry in Canada.

Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium’s mission is to “connect Canada and the world through the future of flight.”

🌎 What is CAAM’s VISION?

For emissions to be entirely eliminated from aviation.

By 2040, their goal is to have 20 percent of all aircraft flying in Canada (from your small flying vehicles to your larger commercial aviation planes) to be powered by zero emissions. 

Hydrogen and electric aircraft will be employed strategically to be inclusive with this new technology, benefitting people with face-to-face interactions and allowing us to meet our climate change goals simultaneously.

Aviation that is isolated to a city or a domestic market is insufficient. It’s meant to be global and interconnected. CAAM is critically redefining the way emergency responders move around our cities. Fatalities from car accidents will lessen and aircrafts will be more available and employable than ever.

The narrative was solidified that I needed to start putting my efforts day in and day out into making the changes I wanted to see in the world.”

– JR Hammond

💣 4 Value Bombs

  1. You do not need to solve all of the problems that you are faced with on your own! Ask yourself WHO do you need to partner with to solve the problems and build relationships with them instead of asking yourself HOW am I going to solve all of these problems? By creating the Canadian Air Mobility Consortium, JR is creating the space for others that believe in the vision of the non-profit to help solve the problems that they all face. People move when a vision is formulated and this synergy allows conversations and partnerships to form naturally. 
  2. Think about “WHO” and not “HOW.” For example, when JR developed his obsession to bring electric flying vehicles to Canada, he sent over 500 emails to build the relationships and partnerships that were needed to accomplish this massive goal. The main thing JR looked out for when forming these relationships is not investment capital or skills, but rather someone that shared his vision and passion. 
  3. When you are dealing with such a massive set of problems, it is borderline impossible to try and solve those problems on your own. The key to success is to operate with a collaboration mindset instead of a competitive one. The important thing to note is that when there are so many problems, the abundance of opportunities that come from these problems means that multiple companies can succeed. If you operate with a scarcity mindset, thinking that the pie is small and the slices of the pie are limited, you are bound to lose. Although the aviation industry is hyper-competitive, the way to “win” is not to compete, but to collaborate and strategically position yourself towards the right partnerships.
  4. Imposter syndrome is experienced by everyone at almost every level. The key to overcoming imposter syndrome is to make the mindset shift from “Am I the right person?” to “This is the opportunity that I was aligned to create.” You can also make the shift from “Why would I be the one to do this?” to “If not me, then who?” This will help you divorce the BS narratives that the mind loves to create and allow you to marry the truth of your unbounded potential.

People & Resources Mentioned 

  • Uber Elevate Summit
  • Jetsons concept
  • Collaborative mindset
  • Moonshot mindset

JR Hammond’s LinkedIn
Canadian Advanced Air Mobility’s LinkedIn
Canadian Advanced Air Mobility’s Website
Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium’s Website
Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium’s LinkedIn
Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium’s Twitter

TRANSCRIPT

Julian Alvarez: Welcome back, everyone. I have JR Hammond with me here today, and, yeah, I’m super excited for this conversation that we’ll be having on electric flying vehicles in the future and all sorts of crazy things but JR we are excited to have you on board. How are you doing today, man?

JR Hammond: Doing excellent. And thank you so much for hosting us, Julian. And we
are excited to dive into the future concept of the Jetsons being here.

Julian: Oh, man, I am excited. This is my type of conversation. So, yeah. To get started here. JR I would love it if you could tell us a bit about who you are, your story, what got you interested in entrepreneurship and ultimately why you decided to become an entrepreneur, knowing or not knowing that it would be as challenging and difficult as it is.

JR: While my story, of course, is similar to entrepreneurs across the world, it is not a straight path to the adventures that we embark upon. I was really privileged to grow up here in Canada, starting in the province of Saskatchewan, but having the majority of my childhood in the energy hydrocarbon specific center of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where I was exposed to this bubble of unsustainable practices that I thought was the norm. And growing up in Calgary was excellent because we were a direct beneficiary of a lot of hydrocarbon and energy production but it started to show me that the path going forward that we were on was not something that I could continue to contribute to. And so that led me to my first kind of aspect of exploring outside the bubble. We started exploring the world as a family, understanding the cultures, the expectations and the different realities that travel represented in showcasing life outside of the bubble. That was the foundational piece of what aviation was introduced to my life. It was always that portal to the new adventure, the new language, the new food, whatever it may be that solidified in my lifestyle at a young age. What quickly became present, though, as that travel bug was solidified within me was this diverging path on the sustainability side. I fundamentally knew that with every opportunity that aviation played in the positivity aspect of my life, there was an equivalent negative side that continued to create greater and greater distance. And that’s where entrepreneurship came in, realizing that those diverging path did not have to be the solution going forward, it led me to start exploring what were the opportunities to bring those two parts together and that’s where electric aviation started playing a role, knowing what with the flying vehicle aspect.

JR: That’s it. And it was that’s the path that I had to go on for the majority of my life being twenty-nine right now, three-quarters of my life had never seen the opportunity of those two paths coming together. There were always talks about it, but it wasn’t an opportunity. And this is where we talk about market timing as well, or just being in the right spot at the right time. Our generation is going to be the future of aviation, and that’s starting with the work that we’re trying to do here in Canada.

Julian: Oh, that’s exciting. Before we dive into that, one thing I want to highlight here is that you grew up in Calgary, Alberta, which is in Canada, and you saw how the traditional ways of getting oil and energy were kind of damage but it was kind of like the way things were. But I think what’s interesting is that you were in that bubble and you didn’t know anything about sustainability or anything apart from that but as soon as you had other cultural experiences where you travelled, I mean, you lived in Toronto, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Shanghai. And I think what I would assume is that that travel experience burst the bubble that you had in Calgary and allowed you to see what Calgary was doing as an opportunity of how you could improve things and take a more sustainable approach, which you probably would not have developed through your travel and cultural experiences.

JR: That’s it, and to build upon that, there is a generation that had to work to make the opportunities available in Alberta that the energy industry represented. And that was the knowledge set that we had at the time. So, there is no ill sentiment towards what is progress in the energy industry, it’s just we have now tapped into new levels of knowledge, new levels of opportunity that we can take and expand beyond our conventional systems. The conventional is simply not going to be sufficient anymore. And for me personally, growing up in Alberta and the concept of climate change and what that actually meant, did not have a personal impact on my day-to-day life. I could wake up every single day in Calgary and still see the blue skies above me, I did not experience smog, did not experience climate tragedies from rising waters to extreme weather changes, but that narrative changed when I left. And the specific story that I bring up is I will never forget for the rest of my life, my first December time in Shanghai in China, waking up and walking outside, seeing this the smog so thick that when you take that inhale of your breath, you can feel the sting in your lungs, the soot buildup on your arms and body from just walking around the city and then having that pollution sink into the underground metro system is a visceral, visceral reaction that we were playing a part of that and that pathway was already starting to work its way across the Pacific into our beautiful backyard here in North America.

JR: That said so fundamentally coming out of Asia and having those experiences in Shanghai, the narrative was solidified that I needed to start putting my efforts day in and day out into making the changes I wanted to see in the world. That was presented through aviation and sustainability. Initially, on the Canadian side, there was no space for talking or even beginning conversations about what electric or hydrogen fuel cells are zero-emission aspects and bringing that to aviation. So, it started initially dealing with creating a not-for-profit company, which is the Canadian Advanced Mobility Consortium maqam for short on simply bringing the necessary stakeholders together to start the conversation. Never in the history of aviation in Canada did we have the three levels of government, our federal, provincial and local, the airports, the operators, these new electric aircraft developers sit around the table and start saying what is now possible with this new technology? Where can we expand the conventional routes using hydrocarbon powered aircraft? Think of your conventional United Airlines, Southwest Airlines couldn’t serve before because of other noise restrictions, environmental restrictions or the economical side. Those were the conversations that fueled our consortium. The mission behind the consortium is to connect Canada and the world through the future of flight. All of the opportunities developed out of the consortium, which is the collaborative sense, then transitions into our other company, Canadian Air Mobility, which is the for-profit investment house, to ensure that those positive and business opportunities have the financing to execute and move to revenue-generating operations. So, think of the consortium as the idea generator and then we have the financing house to actually execute upon it.

Julian: Interesting, yeah, and so the reason both of these are necessary, if I understand this correctly, is because, in order to have these flying vehicles, you can’t just build them and put them out and have people drive them. Like you need to have the infrastructure, you need to have governments on board because of regulations, and you need to have all these partnerships that make it possible. And that makes people interested and that also attract investment and capital into it. So, the consortium really is the nonprofit side that is bringing these conversations and narratives to the forefront while the for-profit, just Canadian air mobility is the one that’s actually financing and promoting these companies and different technologies to make electric flying vehicles possible.

JR: That’s exactly it. And a great way we like to put it, Julian, is these aircraft or the flying vehicles we can use that terminology intertwine there. They exist and they are being tested around the world, specifically in Silicon Valley, which is the hot spot for a lot of these vehicles. The point is there is not a marketplace to operate them yet. So, a vehicle that can fly, excellent, but that can’t generate revenues, that can’t land and depart and critically for the aviation industry cannot maintain that safety standard that we have as the safest transportation method per capita, that’s what we’re helping to create. That’s what we are unlocking.

Julian: Interesting. So, you basically have all these companies in Silicon Valley, in the US that have these flying cars and they probably work, but they are not operational or they don’t have the permissions. So, you’re trying to bridge that gap between the flying vehicles that already exist and work and the operational side of connecting them and giving them space and the regulations to be able to operate.

JR: That’s exactly it. The Karvelas terminology is what we like to use, and when you think about it on your United Airlines or Southwest Airlines flight, imagine being on that aircraft, you know it flies, you know it gets you from A to B but if you don’t have the airports, if you don’t have the actual air traffic control to guide that aircraft, that’s what we’re trying to help create. And that’s going to be the next phase of aviation.

Julian: Interesting. That is fascinating. So, let’s transition here. We like to talk about the problem space. So how would you describe the problem that you’re trying to solve? And I would think there are several key players with several problems here. You probably have the people that are actually travelling and using these flying vehicles, as well as the other side of the infrastructure, the government, it is like a lot of stakeholders and problems. So, I’m curious how you would describe the problem you’re trying to solve with both the consortium and the actual investment fund with Canadian air mobility.

JR: And it really boils down really into two main aspects. The first one is on the urban setting side. Fundamentally, we know that with the rapid urbanization of our cities worldwide, we have run out of ground space to facilitate the movement of people, goods and services within those regions. The geometry just doesn’t work anymore. You can’t be stacking or expanding highways to facilitate that natural movement of people, goods and services in our dense urban centers. That sprawl is going to continue and we know how that narrative ends. You run out of space before you’re travelling five hours and still within the same city limits. What we’re trying to solve is how do we sit down and redesign our cities to start building upon the 3D space above them. What do we unlock when we start removing roadways and re-converting them to greenways because we can move people and serve in cargo quicker and more efficiently through the air? This is the problem that we’re trying to solve. How do we create that 15-minute city concept that we had here in Vancouver, Canada, have adopted to ensure that your life has the ability to be connected within a 15-minute transportation time? Urban air mobility has zero-emission aircraft to help solve that problem. So that’s applicable worldwide, especially for our growing cities, knowing that the costs for additional highway expansion, the costs for bridges, tunnels, is not going to keep up the pace to what our additional transportation needs are. The second major aspect and the problem that we’re solving is when we take a look at the more connective piece on a regional or transcontinental aircraft aspect. If covid has taught us anything, the importance of face-to-face connection with humans is not going away any time soon. We can still appreciate the digital and find efficiency there but that natural and innate ability for humans to connect face to face will always remain. With the developing world and we look at Southeast Asia on the requirements of the next three billion people entering the aviation sector as travelers are conventional hydrocarbon aircraft, those like your Southwest Airlines, United Airlines aircraft are not going to be sufficient for meeting our climate change goals and accompanying this next three billion people into the aviation sector. We need a new solution. Bringing in zero-emission aircraft gives us that chance. Hydrogen and electric aircraft allow us to just being inclusive with this new technology have the benefits of people connecting face to face and also ensuring that we’re meeting those climate change goals at the same time.

Julian: Yeah, interesting, let’s talk about that last piece with climate change. Like what basically is the problem there if we’re unable to adapt to sustainable solutions? What would be the outcome if we don’t transition?

Julian: Yeah, that is powerful, so to basically summarize here, you have the first problem, which is basically people like cities getting over congested and it takes way too long to get from one point of the city to another, and this is a growing problem. It’s not only a problem now, but it’s a growing problem because there’s an increasing attraction for people to live in urban centers as time goes on, which is further worsens traffic. So why drive in traffic five hours when you can fly where you need? That’s the first thing. Another thing to highlight is that it’s not just people, it’s also goods and other sorts of things. Especially things that are urgent like maybe you need someone who has a medical emergency or there are some s upplies like a defibrillator that needs to be transported to a location in a timely manner of not someone dies. So, it’s not just convenience and the improvement of life for the day-to-day, but also like life and death situations that can be solved by the increased speed of delivery.

JR: That’s it. And to be very specific on a lot of the initial use cases, since the flying vehicles that we’re looking at are similar to helicopters in the sense they land and take off vertically and don’t need a large runway that we find at our major airports, what does it look like when an accident occurs on a highway outside of the downtown core of not near a hospital? How can we bring one of these first responder aircraft in quicker, more efficiently to land vertically on the highway at the accident scene, have quicker medical care in that golden hour, which is the highest probability of survival rate for the patients, and then get them back to those major medical centers? These are the opportunities that become available. Yes, on the convenient side, but really redefining how we move those emergency responders around our cities.

Julian: Yeah, I mean, the key here is that the implications are much broader than you would initially think because most people think flying vehicles and they’re like, “oh, cool, I can go visit my friend in like two minutes”, but it goes broader than that. So, you know, what I find really interesting about what you’re doing is that as we’re talking about, you’re not just improving people’s lives through this incredible transportation option and it’s not only improving the economy based on the efficiencies of travel but what’s really interesting is how part of the solution for you is also in making the flying vehicles environmentally friendly, as well as incorporating that social component which you touched on of it, which is basically just making these vehicles equitable, inclusive and accessible to everyone, not just a wealthy minority. So, most people think flying cars and they wouldn’t think of this social component or the environmental friendliness, why are these components important to you and how do you go about actually achieving this, the three-part solution?

JR: And this is the absolute sweet spot of the conversation here Julian. We know that the lessons coming out of the conventional aviation industry, think about commercial aviation, your Southwest United Airlines, your private aviation on flying private jets, we cannot make the same errors with this beautiful opportunity and a blank slate for the new zero-emission aviation industry. Fundamentally, we have been told from day one by our cities, our regions and our federal government that if these new flying vehicles only benefit the top 1% of the socioeconomic spectrum, they will shut us down so quickly. With that barrier in mind, we’ve set out from day one to showcase how we can actually design this to be inclusive of not only the socioeconomic spectrum, but the social spectrum, the accessibility side as well, for different capabilities on the movement aspect and critically areas within our regions that are not easily accessible by land that needs conventional air transportation to get into. This is the barrier that we start with and we continue to challenge our manufacturers and all of our partners to not only live up to that but to step forward. And similar on the zero-emission side, there’s a really important movement going on, on the transition from conventional aviation fuel to biofuel and then moving to electric or hydrogen, we’re starting at zero emissions. We’re starting there and going forward with new energy technologies. And fundamentally, why is this important? We know that the conventional industry of the past is not going to fulfil the needs that we need going forward on creating that wholesome new business concept that really brings people together and has technology be a benefit for the overall public society and not just that upper 1%.

Julian: I love the boldness of that because if you make something that’s incredibly impactful, but it only reaches 1% of the population, your impact is severely limited. So, I love the boldness of aiming for accessibility for everyone because that just goes on to – you can see the true potential and impact of a solution when it’s easily accessible by everyone. It doesn’t matter how valuable a solution is, if it’s out of reach for someone, it’s not value built to them in any way.

JR: That’s exactly it. And we know through all of our studies that with these new aircraft flying across our cities, if you as a resident are not personally benefiting from this new technology, yet seeing aircraft flying over the top of you, that is not going to be an inclusive ecosystem. How do we ensure we change around that narrative and that is the complex problem to solve, ensuring that inclusivity from day one?

Julian: And on that, one thing I was curious about is I’m sure there are so many challenges that come from building these flying vehicles. Is there any particular challenge or problem that you think is one of the toughest ones to overcome, whether it’s the accessibility or the regulations or just the noise of the vehicles, the technical side? Yeah, what would you say? I’m sure there’s a million but what’s the real challenge there?

JR: Yeah, I was going to say I have to pull up my entire scroll of challenges that we have to solve. But fundamentally, the near-term ones that we invest our time and effort into and to continue to move the ball forward is number one on the public perception piece and number two on the safe side. So public perception goes exactly to that point that I was just making. How do we start from day one with that exclusivity model in the narrative? We do not need just these private aircraft or private flying vehicles taking the rich more efficiently over top of the traffic, a more complex and inclusive challenge is how do we bring this air metro concept as an intermodal solution. Such that you can take your local city train, yes, take your local city bus to a transportation hub and then transfer to one of these flying vehicles that seat maybe 10 to 50 people and move you via the air around the city. And that becomes the intermodal side. That challenge is much more complex and that’s what we’re committing our time to, to really diving into.

Julian: Quick interjection. Intermodal, there means like multiple modes of transportation that you go from one to another?

JR: Point in case. You have your active transport, think of your shared bikes, your shared vehicles, you rideshare and then your public transportation bus, ferries, metro, etc. and we want aviation to be the next narrative.

Julian: Awesome. I love that. Okay, awesome. Yeah, I’m sure out of the whole scroll of problems, that one’s a tough one to crack. But one thing I’ve noticed when solving problems is that if you aim to solve some of the hardest problems, it’s kind of like you discover so many other problems along the way but it also makes those other problems a little easier to tackle and navigate. But I think also, given the boldness of your vision and mission, overcoming those challenges just becomes a lot easier when you have an entire purpose and vision behind it all.

JR: And let’s just build on the entrepreneurial side of that. From day one, we have walked into this space, Julian, knowing that we’re not going to be able to solve all these problems ourselves. It has to be our ability to create the space for the experts in these fields to just run and have the resources available to solve them along with us. That has been the model of our success so far in the consortium, and that’s where we continue to see forward momentum. It’s just clearing the pathways for experts to do their best work.

Julian: Wow. That is honestly the highlight of the conversation for me because to basically go into this space, as intimidating as it is to say like we’re going to bring flying cars to Canada and be like, “oh my God, that must be like a million problems” and if you have the mindset that you need to figure out how to solve them all, you’ll just probably, cry and probably not do anything. And I love what you said, “It’s not about solving them all, but it’s creating the space and the conversations and the relationships and the partnerships, both with companies and governments to make people aware of these problems and to give people a reason, an incentive to actually want to solve them”. And when you do that, you create a team and you create a vision and people move in that direction to make sure that those problems are solved. That’s genius because, yeah, you can’t solve it all on your own.

JR: That’s it and the real secret sauce for our model is that this vision is not just contained in our company structures. We’ve been able to mobilize an industry towards a vision. So that each company, stakeholder government organization can continue to forward themselves toward this shared vision. And that expands our resource base, expands our expert base far beyond the exponential capabilities that are X or Y axis would have been on our graph projections, we get access to that. And the important part, too, is this is the pathway of the future of business going forward. We know with the complex problems we’re solving on the global aspect; one single company is not going to be sufficient enough to solve it. It needs to be this collaborative aspect and that’s what we’re showcasing here in aviation.

Julian: Wow, that is huge. So, a takeaway for everyone there is just to realize that you don’t need to solve all the problems. Think about who, not how. Who do I need a partner with? Who do I need to talk with? I read your story and you reached out. You sent five hundred emails to people. More than five hundred emails to build these relationships and these networks. So, you could have gone and figured out all these problems and tried to tackle them but you’re like, I know that I need a network, I need to build these relationships. So, you took that who not how to approach and it’s created the space for many of these problems to be solved collaboratively rather than an individual. That’s powerful.

JR: And for aspiring entrepreneurs out there, the critical piece of my story was when I was going through that rapid email firing off. The main narrative that I was looking for was not investment, was not help me do this, but somebody that saw the same vision that I had for our future and that was a token of success. I fundamentally know and I extend this lesson to as many others as possible, the pie will be sufficient for everybody to have peace going forward in the future. If you fundamentally believe in your business model, that pie will be enough to bring in as many partners as necessary to get it done. And in aviation, we know we can’t do it alone, so how do we lean in from day one to ensuring, first of all, before fighting over the pie, we build it together and then watch it grow to that exponential size?

Julian: It’s so important. And that’s the mindset by the way. That’s a collaborative mindset instead of a competitive one. And a competitive one, there’s scarcity and you think that there is a limited slice of the pie that everyone’s fighting for. In a collaborative mindset, you realize that the pie is so big that there’s space for everyone to win. There doesn’t need to be that scarcity mindset. There’s an abundance and you also realize that by working together, you become stronger and more successful and not the other way around. So that’s huge. And by the way in this industry, you let me know that prior to covid there are one hundred sixty-five flying car companies and now there’s over three hundred. So, it’s a hyper-competitive space but the way that I’m now learning that you win is not through being more competitive, but rather being more collaborative and building the right partnerships to help you succeed.

JR: That’s it and in aviation, we’re really privileged to remove that scarcity mentality and leading to the abundance side, specifically because aviation in a city or just a domestic market is not sufficient enough. Aviation itself is meant to be global interconnected. So that gives a really strong base to build off when you start with that mentality.

Julian: Oh, I love that. And so, on the last question here on the solutions side is we’ve been talking about the vision and I’m curious to learn more like if the advanced air mobility consortium was to achieve its ultimate destiny, like if it got to the point where it fulfilled its vision, what would the world look like?

JR: So, we have our board, area audacious goal setting in place for the consortium. We want by 2040, 20% of all aircraft flying in Canada from your small flying vehicles all the way up to your larger commercial aviation planes, your southwest United Airlines, to be powered by zero emissions. This will be our 2040 goal and once we accomplish that, we just continue to build. Fundamentally our work today will eliminate emissions from aviation.

Julian: I love that. It’s a powerful vision and one that planet Earth will be very happy with. I love that. Okay, so I’m going to transition here to a bit of psychology and mindset piece. And one thing that was really interesting when I was hearing about your story is that you were interested in aviation and sustainability, but you didn’t have a firm footing yet. And so, you went to the Hoover Elevate conference, which I think was in 2018 and that’s when you told me that when you were there, you felt that there were so many brilliant people in the aviation space that you felt like there’s no space for someone like me in this room. I don’t have these aerospace degrees or all of this background in aviation and so you felt out of place and you felt an imposter syndrome but at the same time, you took note that no one was talking about bringing these flying cars to Canada. And so, you saw the opportunity and so you made the transition from ‘I don’t belong in this room to whoa, let’s go and take this to Canada’. So, what were the fears, doubts or limiting beliefs that were going through your mind as you were at that conference? And how did you overcome them and reframe them to go from am I the right person for this to all the way to like this is the opportunity I was aligned to create? How did that happen?

JR: Well, let’s bring it back to your exact point, I was exhibiting A in that impostor syndrome sitting at this hoover elevate conference, which just for reference was the first-ever conference hosted to bring the knowledge around the world trying to develop this EV or the electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that are just in the concept of the flying vehicle side. And I was sitting there as a twenty-seven-year-old, sitting around the NASA aerospace scientist, the PhD from MIT, from Harvard, literally the people that put other humans in space, designing all of our future space and aeronautics aspect. And I’m looking around saying, what am I doing here? Who am I to even be here? And so that shock took me a lot to get over. And I’ll still stress another key point for entrepreneurs out there, counsellors, therapists, business coaches and I have my spiritual coach here in Canada were quintessential in helping to take those negative narratives and the imposter syndrome and really breaking them down to the point where that clicking side came at that conference in California. Who not better than myself today? Nobody, as we said, was talking about the Canadian market. Nobody was seeing this massive country to the north that already had a strong sustainability base, a large aviation sector right to start putting those pieces together. And so, as the conversation of the conference was focused on Silicon Valley, on Tokyo and Japan and London and England, I took that narrative, I pulled those pieces and started piecing together how this could play out in Canada. And the really big narrative that I had to continue to challenge and reframe was, if not me, then who? I could never find the answer to the who aspect. So, it was just alignment, it was exciting and it was the first time where I could feel within my heart cords that the aviation and sustainability narratives gave me that fuel, that entrepreneurial fuel day in and day out to just start running with it. Test Comverse and bring that vision to reality, knowing that the imposter syndrome was just a narrative in my head. I was here to create the future that I wanted to see and the fastest and quickest way to do that was to create a company to have a vehicle to bring us there.

Julian: Man, that is beautiful. If not me, then who? I think so many times our minds go crazy and create false narratives that limit our potential and who we are and what we’re capable of and so I think one of the most important parts in personal growth in your mindset is divorcing the bullshit narratives that the mind creates on a consistent basis and marrying the truth of your infinite and unbounded potential. And that mindset shift from am I the right person or why me? Like, why would I be the one to do this when there are so many other brilliant people? And shifting that too if not me, then who, that gives you the power in the mindset to actually believe that you have the capability of making it happen and oftentimes all you really need is a conviction. It is the belief because everything else builds on top of that.

JR: That’s it, and I’ll just bring it to the point, and this is shared across industries for the young entrepreneurs, there’s always that sense of these people has more experience, 30, 40, 50 years in the aviation industry, the tech industry whatsoever. But what a beautiful opportunity to create that synergy of the newness, the uniqueness and the frame of the mindset that we can bring as a younger generation, as a collaborative mindset with the experience, not as a competitive side. Once we start tapping into that, wow, watch what can get done.

Julian: Yeah. And your main point of leverage that you have as a young entrepreneur is that you have a beginner’s mind. It may seem like a limitation, but a beginner’s mind is so much more creative, sees so much more opportunity, see so many more intersections with other industries and problems and solutions. All of these people that are so-called experts are limited in their ability to see things differently. You’re new, you’re fresh, you bring a fresh perspective and you can bring bold ideas that experts would be like, that’s not possible, how are you going to do that? Blah, blah, blah. They have all these limitations that they’ve developed. You have a fresh perspective, and that’s probably your biggest treasure to make use of it to your greatest extent because that’s what J.R. did. He’s like, I’m a bring this to Canada. I don’t care how hard it is, I’m going to make it happen.

JR: We made that choice from day one that we were not going to live in that box of the conventional aviation industry. We chose that from day one. And we continue to have that invitation for existing players to join us in the new box. It’s not going to be the same, there will be aspects but that invitation has been so powerful and so rewarding to see all the experience that still wants the opportunity to play in that new world.

Julian: I love that. Such an important message. All right. Transitioning here to our last segment of entrepreneurial lessons, one thing that I really admire is just the boldness of your thinking. And just the innovation and creativity that you have had for everything you’ve been developing. So, with this high degree of creativity and innovation, I’m curious, what are some of your mindsets or strategies that you use to come up with great ideas on a consistent basis? And how do you take something like 10x thinking and apply it consistently and build these systems around innovation and ideation, not only for yourself but in your company so that the people around you are also implementing them?

JR: And from day one, this is what I have to share with our listeners out there to Julian. I know fundamentally I cannot be the linchpin of this vision. It has to extend beyond me, J.R., as well as our company, to really have the movement in unlocking that 10x potential. How that’s done, I give myself space and time with a strict, regimented schedule and boundaries, knowing that at 3: 30 computer shuts down and I am off to work to give my brain space, time and ability to process all the excitement that happens during the day to move that into the long-term memory and start that natural process of stitching everything together behind the scenes in my subconscious. And what that really unlock is that I still have that excitement waking up, looking forward to the next morning and diving back into that. So that’s number one. The second piece for me is ensuring I empower all of those around me to see how that vision, which is a company vision, linked to their personal motivation and goals. That is how we have that empowering aspect, taking the problems and the challenges that we have in the near future and really linking it up to their personal development and their purpose on this planet. When we have an ecosystem of people doing that in their own space, feeling the natural alignment, that’s when we get massive movement. And that happens not only within our company but all of our external partners as well.

Julian: That is powerful, it’s incredible what can happen when you create space for your mind to roam. And I’ve been learning about the neuroscience of creativity and of peak performance in flow and basically when you create space for your mind – basically, it’s one of the most productive things you can do is to do nothing, because that is not only helping you recover, but it’s also creating space for these ideas that can help you be more productive. That’s where they can surface. So, I’d love that recommendation that you have there. And you also touched on the mission component there. So, I’m curious, you’ve created an incredible mission and vision, how do you make sure that as a company you’re consistently living up to the mission and values of your company?

JR: And this is where I have to lean on. Our lead operating officer, his name is Chris. He comes from a counselling background and his innate ability to bring an empathetic, open heart management style to just working with human beings. We want the full self to be present in our work and we create the space for that at our company. And that is allowed us to, as we take ridiculously complex challenging conversations and start seeing how we can bring the human component back into these business conversations. At the root of everything that we’re doing, we are creating a better company for this world and that starts with human beings. And so, Chris’s ability to really lay out our connection, our growth plans, learning plans and align that with the company vision at the same time it is allowed for the employee engagement aspect far beyond anything we could ever portray. And this is it. We are the catalyst for removing those hurdles for people to be the best human beings possible. Watch what they can do when they have that opportunity.

Julian: When you serve your employees, they will serve you back and reciprocity tremendously. So, if you create that space to be inquisitive and curious and interested in their success, then they will do the same for you. So that’s probably one of the biggest pieces of culture. Cool. So, the last question for you. What impact do you want to have on the creation of the future? How will you J.R invent the future?

JR: I’m going to summarize it nice and simple for my statement, I’ll expand upon that. We are going to eliminate emissions from aviation. We will create a new connective transportation node worldwide. Once we solve that out Julian, we’re going to take all of the work that we’ve done here on planet Earth and transition into space. Our current models for interconnectivity on the interplanetary side are excellent what was being progressed but we can take all of the work that we’re doing here and showcase how we can take it to the interstellar side. So that’s going to be not just our techniques, but our 100x plus on that side.

Julian: Yeah, that’s like infinity X. You went from Super bold to incredibly bold. I love it. All those moon shots are what help you get up and live a fulfilling life full of impact. So, thank you for your boldness and your contribution to all of humanity. It’s only just the beginning for you. So, I’m so excited to continue to follow you on your journey and support you in any way that I can. But yeah, J.R., thanks for taking the time for being on. I love the conversation and I look forward to flying in a flying vehicle with you soon.

JR: Excellent. And the invitation is always open, get excited and just be inspired about what is possible when we’re really leading into our full self.

Julian: Love that. Beautiful message. All right, thank you all for listening and we will catch you all on the next episode. Bye-bye.

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