Chief Gaylor gives motivating speech to Airmen
By Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt, 109th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 26, 2014
STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- "Some of you are about to launch out of here for a place called Antarctica. When you come back, do you feel good? I hope so. You deserve to. Think of the contribution you're making. Think of what it is that you're doing. Think of the uniqueness of it. Think of the opportunity you never dreamt of when you were a little kid that someday you would go to Antarctica to perform duty. You think of it in those terms, you think, 'Wow, when's the plane leaving?' And you put up with the separation and the luxury of life because of the feelings you get from what it is you're doing."
Retired Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Robert D. Gaylor spoke these words and many more to a room full of enlisted Airmen during a visit here Sept. 25. This was the third visit to the 109th Airlift Wing for the now 84-year-old. The 109th AW Chief's Council invited him to be the guest speaker at the annual Senior Noncommissioned Officer Induction Ceremony, and the retired chief took some time a few hours before the ceremony to talk to the enlisted personnel on the base.
Gaylor enlisted in the Air Force 66 years ago - September 1948 - in the security police career field. In 1957 he served as a military training instructor until 1962. He became the fifth chief master sgt. of the Air Force in 1977 and retired in 1979. Since then, he visits Airmen throughout the world to talk about his time in the Air Force, how the Air Force has evolved throughout the years, and gives some insight into how to be motivated Airmen.
Gaylor said one of the most popular questions he gets is how the Air Force has changed in the last 66 years. He sums it up with "the four T's" - training, technology, tribe (family), and what he says may be the most important, trust.
"It might be the most important T of all to me, because I entered an Air Force where it wasn't there," Gaylor said. "I joined an Air Force where there was no trust. Enlisted people were in no way trusted. The belief was we had to be watched every minute."
Gaylor said the trust Airmen enjoy today wasn't earned overnight. He said he and others who served years before, earned it by showing they could handle it.
"You better not screw it up," he told the Airmen in the audience. "You have a right to do a lot of things, but you do not have the right to violate the trust that we worked hard to earn over the years. You make sure that you take that trust that's been invested in you and use it appropriately in a positive way."
For anyone who is familiar with Gaylor's speeches, they are more than likely familiar with his popular phrase, "My name is on the mailbox," and his motto, "People like hot french fries".
When Gaylor says "my name is on the mailbox" he's talking about ownership and accountability and how that alone is what improves motivation.
"I assume your name is on the 109th mailbox," he said. "If it isn't, your motivation level is probably 40-50 percent. Only when you feel that ownership, that accountability does motivation go up. Believe me, they're connected. ... There is no substitute for a feeling of achievement, contribution, accountability."
His motto he uses is about passion. Gaylor told a story about a visit to a small hamburger stand and a young delivery boy who worked there. When the boy received an order, "The kid took off running, and I have to emphasize running. Young kid with a sack of food running full speed down the street." He said the boy came running back at the same speed. "I had to figure out what stirred him up." So Gaylor talked to him.
"I said 'You were really running!' He said, 'I always do.'
'Every order?' 'Yes, Sir.'
'There and back?' 'Yes, Sir.'
'That fast?' 'Yes, Sir.'
'Why?' 'People like hot french fries.' And I said, 'You're probably right.'"
Gaylor said later on he thought about what the boy said, and asked the audience, "Do you deliver hot fries? I know someone who does. Me.
"I have all kinds of passion. I have a passion for my country, my city, my Air Force. I have an abundance of passion - I deliver hot fries."