Jason Mockford / Courtesy Photo

World renowned pilot Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger will speak at Cal Poly Nov. 30 to raise funds for the Cal Poly Center for Leadership.

“We are honored to have Captain Sullenberger share with the community his compelling story about leadership under pressure. His talk in support of the Cal Poly Center for Leadership will allow us to expand our programming and develop student leaders into the future,” Director of Leadership and Service Jason Mockford said in a press release.

Sullenberger will speak about the values that helped him lead a successful emergency landing on the Hudson River in 2009, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew aboard his plane.

Leadership Under Pressure

“I’ve been able to demonstrate to the world in the most dramatic way possible, in a very public way, that all the things that I’ve worked on and become expert at and cared about my entire professional life — leadership, core values, effective culture, human skills to build and lead teams well  — really work in the real world, even in the most extreme challenges,” Sullenberger said.

Although his values accumulated over years of flight experience, Sullenberger said that leadership and hard work ethic can be applied to everyone.

Sullenberger said it is a person’s civic duty to constantly learn and strive to better themselves. By doing so his whole life, Sullenberger unknowingly prepared himself for success under immensely challenging circumstances.

Realistic Optimist

“If I had to give my [college-aged] self a little bit of advice, I think it would be to always remember to be, what I call, a realistic optimist,” Sullenberger said.

According to Sullenberger, a realistic opimist is someone who is confident in their ability because they have worked hard to gain that confidence and are sure of their capabilities.

“Ultimately, you will succeed if you continue to learn and grow and work as hard as you can,” Sullenberger said.

Sullenberger said if he had been able to tell himself this advice, he would have looked at the world from a different perspective.

“An Evening with Captain ‘Sully’ Sullenberger”

Sullenberger’s success led to instantaneous notoriety and labeled him a hero.

“I didn’t feel like I was a hero, I felt like I had done my job, but done it extraordinarily well under very difficult circumstances — done it probably better than might have been expected under those conditions — and that’s true for everyone who participated in saving every life —­­­ ­­­­­­­­­­­the rescuers, the crew, the first responders that day,” Sullenberger said.

Sullenberger did not stop there. He has used his notoriety to advocate for the safety of air travelers on Capitol Hill and raise money for programs such as the Center for Leadership.

Tickets to “An  Evening with Captain ‘Sully’ Sullenberger” go on sale Wednesday, Oct. 4 and range from $40 to $150 dollars. Tickets can be purchased at the Cal Poly Tickets Office, by phone at 805-756-4849 or online at leadership.calpoly.edu/captainsully.

Cal Poly’s Center for Leadership provides students with leadership building programs such as the Emerging Leaders Series, StrengthsQuest education and the Peer Leader team.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Sullenberger’s first name.

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