Former NASA Astronaut & Best-Selling Author of Spaceman
Mike Massimino is a former astronaut, the first person to tweet from space, a recurring character on The Big Bang Theory, a professor at Columbia University and a New York Times best-selling author. His highly engaging talks take audiences on a brilliant journey where seemingly unreachable childhood dreams are achieved, obstacles are overcome, and the world of science intersects with what is perhaps humankind’s most thrilling adventure. Along the way, this “down to earth spaceman,” known for his sense of humor, provides a unique and highly motivating perspective on teamwork, innovation, leadership and achieving the impossible. Read More >
Media Sizzle Reel
Innovation and Problem Solving
An Astronaut’s View of Space
Recognizing the Purpose in Your Work
Fixing the Hubble Telescope
On Teamwork and Never Giving Up
Following Dreams and Setting Goals
Mike Massimino on Letterman
The Hubble Space Telescope
Mike’s dream of becoming an astronaut began when he was six years old watching television as Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon. The path to achieving this dream was wrought with unexpected challenges, failures, disappointments, and self-doubt. Mike was rejected three times by NASA including a medical disqualification which Mike overcame by teaching his eyes to “see better.” His persistence paid off with two missions on the Space Shuttle and four spacewalks on the Hubble Space Telescope. Mike stresses that as long as you keep trying no matter what the obstacles, achieving your goal is possible.
Upon arriving at NASA, Mike discovered he was part of team that put the success of the team and the mission above individual accomplishments. The culture at NASA fostered strong relationships between astronauts and with NASA leadership. Teamwork and leadership was developed through the extraordinary experiences that Mike and his fellow astronauts shared during their training and spaceflights. Through these experiences strong friendships and working relationships were forged that enable Mike and his colleague’s to complete astronaut training, overcome tragedy, and repair the greatest scientific instrument in space – the Hubble Space Telescope. Mike discusses how teamwork and leadership led to success during his spaceflights and in life.
Mike’s second spaceflight was the final Space Shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. On that mission Mike was tasked with the most complicated spacewalk ever attempted: the in-space repair of a delicate scientific instrument inside of the telescope. A major miscue during that spacewalk nearly led to failure. But the ground control team and the astronaut’s in space worked together to come up with an innovative solution that saved the day and the mission. Mike explains how although not every problem has an obvious solution, preparation and innovation can help us with overcoming unforeseen challenges and adapting to change.
Mike’s second space flight was one of the last of the Space Shuttle Program. It was time for NASA to retire the space shuttle and move on to the next phase in space exploration. That next phase included flying exclusively on the Russian Soyuz for the foreseeable future, and working with commercial companies in the coming age of private space travel. Many at NASA did not want to accept these changes. But the last few years have shown that those who accepted these changes have thrived, while those who resisted are no longer contributing. Technological progress and entrepreneurship are inevitable in every industry, and the NASA team learned to embrace the changes in order to move on to that next phase. We now have partnerships and burgeoning private space industry. Many of Mike’s students are still excited about working for NASA, but many are also excited about the new opportunities with private space companies and our future in space is bright because of these changes.
No matter how much we enjoy our jobs we sometimes get caught up in the day to day activities and can forget the big picture. This can even happen to astronauts. Mike stresses the importance of trying to remember the reason why we work as hard as we do. In addition to supporting our families and enjoying the challenges of our jobs, we should always remember how we are making the world a better place through our work. For Mike as an astronaut it was servicing and repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. Arguably the greatest scientific instrument ever built, Hubble made some of the greatest scientific discoveries in history while showing us the beauty of our universe. Contributing to great projects makes all the hard work and sacrifice worthwhile.
After a realizing a dream, there comes a time when one needs to find that next dream in life. For Mike, his astronaut career was a little boy dream come true. After 18 years it was time to find a new challenge in life and a new dream. Mike discusses the difficulty of giving up the most exciting and interesting job he could ever have for the next phase in life. New challenges are needed for happiness, and there is no reason why one dream job cannot be replaced by another. In Mike’s case that has meant a new career as a university professor, museum advisor, author, television personality, and speaker sharing his lessons and experiences from his life as an astronaut.
The orbit of the Hubble Space Telescope is 350 miles above the Earth, 100 miles higher than the International Space Station. From that altitude, astronauts are able to see the curvature of our planet, and spacewalking astronauts are able to take in the magnificent views through their helmet visors with a 360 degree view of our planet and the surrounding universe. Mike describes his observations and feelings while viewing our planet, including its fragility and the importance of taking care of it.
“OMG – he was awesome! Everyone loved him!! He stayed to sign books and I think all 300 people waited in line to have him do so. We extended lunch by 30 min. so that everyone could have a chance to meet him, get their photos with him, and get their books signed. Mike is so genuine and so personable. He mingled with everyone before and after his talk. He is truly fabulous. We’ll certainly recommend him to other groups within UnitedHealth Group. We couldn’t have had a better motivator for our team.”
"We can’t thank you enough for your inspiring kick off presentation. You set just the right tone for our meeting and inspired our guests to create innovative approaches to solving some of our thorniest business issues. The meeting was a rousing success and you played a big part teeing it up."
"We have gotten an incredible amount of positive feedback about your talk, and to say you ‘delivered’ would be a complete understatement. Thank you for helping to inspire my team to be at their best with this amazing advancement for myeloma patients...for helping Janssen Oncology to DREAM BIG and GO FAR."
“I had the pleasure of hiring Mike to be our closing guest speaker at our annual user summit in January 2019 in Houston. In my role over the years, I have hired countless speakers to close out large user events and I will say that Mike is one of the best that I have ever hired. Not only is he a down to earth person and easy to talk with, but the message he delivers relates to everyone. Normally when you hire an external speaker to close out an event, there is usually a good size drop-off of people who are trying to catch a flight out of town. Not in our case. I looked around the room when Mike started and it was close to being as crowded as day 1 of the event (roughly 1300 people). Also afterwards, Mike signed his books for attendees and we estimate that 500+ were in line to get a book signed. I would HIGHLY recommend Mike to anyone who needs a closing guest speaker.”
“I wanted to thank you for your contribution to our sales meeting… your talk was the highlight of the meeting for all in attendance. It is always great for me to see an individual like yourself with an incredible resume and unique life experiences who is still incredibly humble and down to earth (pardon the pun). You fit in perfectly with our company values. Please consider yourself an honorary member of the Cook family. The feedback we got from the work you did at our meeting rated higher than anything we did and it wasn’t even close. The message you delivered – the tone of never giving up, team culture, perseverance and overcoming challenges - still resonates this week in conversations I have had with people. “I used my 30 seconds, I got over it and we have to move on.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that.”
“Mike Massimino was a great hit at our annual employee kickoff. Mike did an amazing job getting a full understanding of our company and incorporating it in his speech. He captured the entire audience from begin to end, and he was just a perfect fit for the event.”
“On behalf of the entire marketing leadership team THANK YOU once again for joining us for the seminar and sharing your amazing story! For our team, your talk was incredibly powerful and inspiring! We have heard so many positive comments. It gave a lot of meaning to the seminar and I know people will continue using your stories and quotes for a long time! I personally am also super inspired and looking forward to reading your book.”
“Our company is buzzing about how amazing it was to hear your stories, challenges and successes!”
"Mike was a hit and made everyone's day. His presentation was really well done and set a great, positive and fun tone for our event. He was an absolute pleasure to work with. We really appreciate all the time he took to speak and take pictures with our customers. Everyone loved him and his keynote was stellar. We absolutely loved having him at Zoomtopia.”
“The team is still buzzing about your inspirational and engaging talk. You were a huge hit! We look forward to including you in other events at Fidelity."
“You invested time and did your homework to understand the audience, understand our company, what we're trying to achieve, and you effectively honed in on what you could to assist in that journey. As a result, you connected immediately and effectively with our employees; your story of focus, persistence and perseverance, success and failure, and especially team work, combined with astonishing photos and videos, created a truly unique and inspiring experience and motivated our team. Your energy, passion, humor, and connection with the audience was beyond impressive. Your message and stories resonated with our employees, many of whom went out of their way to share with us how inspiring they thought you are, and for context, this tremendous feedback was from an audience used to hearing from exceptional people with exceptional achievements; yet you easily topped our past keynotes. Here are but a few of the feedback notes from our team: ‘Outstanding message, story and presentation,’ ‘Incredible presenter, amazing engagement and connection with the audience,’ ‘Best of class presenter, especially challenging when compared to the other recent and strong keynotes we've had the opportunity to listen and learn from.’ The keynote speaker was very inspiring - great choice."
"We just wanted to say a big thank you for helping inspire our teams yesterday. And thank you for taking the extra time to sign books and pose for pics. All of those docs and frontline team members (and executives!) are buzzing with smiles today and repeating your stories. The messages that you deliver are very applicable to the work we do in acute healthcare."
"Mike was great. He did a fantastic job of engaging the audience with his stories and down-to-earth style (pardon the pun). He hit the mark on our key messages, but didn’t beat people over the head with them. He integrated them seamlessly into his stories. I also appreciated that he hung around and chatted with a number of our colleagues after his remarks – even if it did nearly cause him to miss his flight. All told, he was a hit."
"Everyone was thrilled with the meeting, especially your presentation. I have never received so much positive feedback after one of our All Staff meetings."
"Your inspiration, passion and down to earth style was nothing short of spectacular."
"Our leaders were inspired by your story and I believe walked away with a renewed sense of purpose and ready to focus on our new aspiration and goal. Your determination has encouraged us to think differently and be more courageous in our pursuits to impact society."
"Just wanted to take a minute and say thank you for your presentation yesterday. I have had numerous people stop me and tell me how much they loved your story – how your message really hit home with our transformation."
"Your presentation was fantastic and highly rated by our audience. On behalf of USA Rice, and the more than 750 conference attendees, please accept our warmest appreciation for your contribution to the quality and success of the meeting."
"Thanks again for doing a superb job today. Really top notch. They loved you. Couldn’t have asked for a better crafted talk."
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