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On The Tarmac With Jim Hagedorn

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Job title: Chairman and CEO, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. (NYSE: SMG).


No. 1 passion: Flying small aircraft like his “near-new” Cessna Citation CJ3.


Experience: Seven years in the U.S. Air Force flying F-16s.


Flying time: Logs 1,000 hours a year, mostly flying to and from corporate headquarters in Marysville, Ohio.


Boyhood dream: To be a Pan Am pilot. (“That was like being a doctor or lawyer back in those days,” he explains.)


Pivot point: The day Hagedorn was named CEO, the board asked him to give up flying. “Look,” he recalls saying, “I’m a businessman, a father and an aviator. And aviation is the one thing I do just for me.”


Piece of advice: Hagedorn says he learned an important lesson after getting caught in vicious crosswinds during his first solo cross-country flight. “You have to control your environment the best you can and will things to happen, even if your plane — or your brand — is trying to go in a direction different from what you want.”


Skills sharpening: “When you’re flying single-pilot, as I usually do, you have to depend on your memory and your ability to manage risk. When a situation is bleak, rule No. 1 is ‘Fly the plane.’ Do not get distracted; do not hit the ground.”


Biggest lesson learned: “CEOs tend to make their mark by their ability to manage massive success or catastrophic failure. Being forced to navigate the highest highs and lowest lows will enhance a leader’s situational awareness."


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