Leroy Chiao

The Astronaut's Worst Career Advice

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Telling people to pursue there interests without an eye to the future is a big mistake.

Leroy Chiao

Astronaut Leroy Chiao is a veteran of four space missions, recently acting as Commander of Expedition 10 aboard the International Space Station. He has logged over 229 days in space - over 36 hours of which were spent in Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA, or spacewalks). He served as a member of the White House appointed Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee.

Dr. Chiao left NASA in 2005 and is involved in entrepreneurial business ventures and works in the US, China, Japan and Russia. He is a director of Excalibur Almaz, a private manned spaceflight company. In addition, he is a director of InNexus, a biotechnology/pharmaceutical development company. Active as a consultant and public speaker, he also serves as the Chairman of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute User Panel, which is attached to the Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Chiao is a director of Challenger Center and of the Committee of 100. He is also an advisor and spokesman for the Heinlein Prize Trust.


Question: What’s the worst career advice you ever received?

Leroy Chiao: The worst career advice I've ever gotten? The worst career advise I've ever gotten that I've never followed, and I can' tell you who – more than one person has said this to me, and I can't tell you who they are because I can't remember. But I remember getting advice like, "Oh, do what interests you. Don't worry about tomorrow, live for today," kind of thing. And to a degree, you've got to do that, you've got to follow your passions. You've got to follow your dreams, but you also have to have a plan. You can't just say I'm going to do what interests me today and I'm not going to worry about tomorrow, that doesn't work. And anyone who's tried that I think quickly finds that out, or hopefully quickly finds that out. You've got to follow your passions. And now that's what I tell people, especially young kids. Think about what turns you on, what do you dream about? What you'd like to accomplish? But along with that, make a plan and work hard to make it happen


Recorded on December 16, 2009