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  • Cory Machado

Hank Scott, CEO of Molon Labe Seating, Seating for Airlines talks mindset and more!

Everyday mindset? I pretty much touch base with a few of the staff who are always positive and have good motivation, that sets the tone for the day. We are lucky enough to be very nimble which allows all team members to have good input in steering our plans. Our industry has long lead times so it is a combination of excitement and patience day to day.

Daily habits? Personally I work out to walk everyday - one or the other, mix it up. I’m lucky that my exercise routines change often with work and travel but I have always had jobs that changed a lot (I flew in the navy for 15 years) so I learnt to cope with rapidly changing situations. I like to apply the same mentality to work, sometimes I will avoid my emails for half a day, go and get my hands dirty on a design. Other times I never escape the emails/office! Trying to mix it up a bit more, and not let the emails dictate my day.

Hobbies as a kid? Skateboarding and motocross, still try both when the bones allow me. Never followed team sports as a youngster but now a huge Denver Broncos fan!

When I was I kid I wanted to fly in the navy and also live in the mountains. I got to do both - although had to leave the navy in order to live in the mountains…..wish I could have found a mix of both, would probably still be in the navy!

Money and Investing? I don’t like to gamble (except founding a start-up, thats a gamble). So for me its bricks and mortar, at least as a baseline. Having been exposed to the start-up world I see why there are so many serial entrepreneurs. I keep telling myself that I wont get involved with another start-up but in all honesty I love it. Would be interesting to see it from the investing side. I also think that it would be great to team up with a new idea and help them, guide them, to focus on what I found to be important and what is a waste of energy. I definitely learnt some lessons the long way/hard way.

Best advice I have been given? It’s pretty simple: ‘Think Sideways’ can’t remember who told me that but I love it.

Goal setting? We have set goals that are pretty straight forward, often customer driven, but we have also pivoted a few times to keep up with what makes sense from a market, money and customer point of view. If we had a large amount of funding early on I don’t think our goals would be the same - and I don’t think we would still be in business to be honest. Having to prioritize the long and short term goals when you don’t have a lot of money to start has been a blessing in disguise. We have made mistakes but we also use an approach of engaging our investors in major decisions. That forces you to make and decisions with a lot of perspective, and avoids the groupthink too.

Criticism ? We had a lot of it with our first media interest and stories about our airline seats designs . It made me really mad as I mistakenly thought people were getting the message wrong and just a bunch of trolls. Then I remembered what an old Boeing executive had told me once, ’12% of the planet is employed in some travel-related job, if you are making things better or worse in travel you will get noticed’. So we turned it around and said - what are we getting wrong with the designs and the marketing message? Since then we have used criticism (I prefer the word : feedback) to make both the message and the designs better. It worked too! The beauty of designing and building unique airline seats is that everyone flies, and as such everyone has an opinion. If you accept that everyone is an expert then your new aim is to make sure when someone has feedback that you have an answer of solution. I remember we had one large investor group run all their folks through our designs and they oddly came back with a bunch of feedback. It was an older design they were looking at and we had made improvements on that design from other peoples feedback. So when they gave us a bunch od suggestions it was awesome to see that we had already implemented all of them. Thats when we knew the design was ready for market.

As far as overcoming obstacles, I personally think the entire team (all of our employees have equity) is completely relentless. Think sideways and overcome the challenges.

Upcoming projects? We do have one interesting design we are working on right now. Its a rapidly-convertible airline seats design that functions as a normal airlines seat but can also be reconfigured in about 30 secs to slide one seat over the top of the other, locked in place and reveal a space large enough to dock and secure a wheelchair for flight. Right now people in wheelchairs can’t fly in their own wheelchairs. Non-profit advocate groups, airlines and regulators know this will all change soon so we are getting ahead of the curve with this design and working with some large companies to address all barriers that current allow folks to get on a bus but not get on a plane in their own wheelchairs.

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