November 11, 2019

Mental models

#79 – Ric Elias: Earning the gift of life

"This is how I would judge my life...'Did I earn my gift?'...We in our evolution can’t process death. Otherwise, we would have never left the cave. I left the cave. I was given the gift, and that gift is a responsibility." — Ric Elias

Read Time 19 minutes

In this episode, Ric Elias, founder of Red Ventures, opens up about the fateful day he knew for certain that he was going to die as a passenger on US Airways Flight 1549. Ric dives deep into how that day impacted his life, greatly changed his perspective, and improved his relationship with his family and the broader community. We also talk about his incredible role as CEO of an enormous company, his remarkable work in philanthropy, and all the wisdom he has acquired in his extraordinary life. 

*If you enjoy this podcast, you are sure to enjoy 3 Things with Ric Elias—a podcast that gleans insights from remarkable people and hosted by Ric himself (Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Play)*



We discuss:

  • Ric’s life leading up to the day of the plane crash [5:30];
  • The plane crash—What it’s like knowing you’re about to die, feelings of regret and sadness [11:15];
  • The improbable plane landing in the Hudson River [19:00];
  • Emotions after the safe landing (and a story he’s never told before) [25:45];
  • A powerful story about Captain Sully [29:30];
  • Earning his second chance at life, and playing the “infinite game” [38:30];
  • Why time is the ultimate currency, and how (and why) to say “no” [46:15];
  • Raising kids in an achievement culture, Ric’s definition of life success, and what Ric wants to instill in his kids [53:00];
  • What Ric believes is actually worth getting upset about, and the organizations that are taking steps to help people [1:09:00];
  • The core principles of Red Ventures (Ric’s company) [1:19:15];
  • Ric’s tips for developing business acumen and negotiation skills [1:29:30];
  • What qualities does Ric look for in people he wants to work with? [1:32:50];
  • What is the next big problem that Ric wants to solve? [1:35:30];
  • What is the most challenging part of your business today? [1:37:30];
  • If Ric could go back and talk to himself in the morning before getting on that plane, what would he say? [1:39:15]; and
  • More.


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Ric Elias

Ric Elias was given the gift of a miracle: to face near-certain death, and then to come back and live differently.

A native of Puerto Rico, Elias attended Boston College and Harvard Business School before starting his career as part of GE’s Financial Management program. He cofounded Red Ventures in 2000, just months before the dot-com bubble burst. The company weathered the storm; by 2007 it was ranked fourth on the Inc. 500 list, and in 2015 the company was valuated at more than $1 billion. Elias has cultivated an award-winning company culture, ranking as a “Best Place to Work” in Charlotte, North Carolina, for ten years in a row.

Elias’s leadership style and personal life are deeply influenced by his experience as a survivor of Flight 1549, also known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.” He is devoted to using his platform to “leave the woodpile higher than he found it” — spinning out multiple nonprofits from Red Ventures over the years, all of which are aimed at creating educational opportunity and economic mobility for under-served groups. In 2018, Elias launched Forward787, a social enterprise committed to raising and deploying $100 million to build businesses in Puerto Rico that compete with the world’s top companies. In 2019, he launched a podcast, 3 Things with Ric Elias, as a continuation of the learning journey he shared on the TED stage. []

Twitter: @RicElias

Disclaimer: This blog is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this blog or materials linked from this blog is at the user's own risk. The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have, and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.
    • Fantastic conversation— appreciate being the fly on the wall. Great gems here – as a heart attack survivor I deeply relate. Thank you Peter and Ric.

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