The Lesson

This week’s challenge is inspired by an article that was recently forwarded to me by Dennis DeSantis, Chancellor of Pittsburgh University.

The gist of the article, titled “Packing Parachutes,” is this: During a combat mission over North Vietnam, Navy Pilot Charlie Plumb’s plane was shot down. Plumb parachuted into enemy territory, got captured, and was held for nearly six years as a Prisoner Of War. Many years later, Plumb found himself sitting in a restaurant when another patron recognized him and made an introduction. Turns out the man who introduced himself to Plumb was the person responsible for packing his parachute on the day he was shot down. Had that chute been packed incorrectly there is no telling what would have happened, but as you can probably imagine, it would have been a rather rough landing.

At the end of the article Plumb puts a philosophical twist on what it means to pack parachutes when he asks, “… who are the special people in your life who provide you the encouragement you need when the chips are down? Perhaps it’s time right now to give those people a call and thank them for packing your parachute.”

In this video version, Plumb adds a business twist. Take a peek:

Quite an interesting way to look at packing parachutes, if you ask me.

While reading the article I began reflecting on all the great managers, mentors, trainers, and supervisors that have packed my “corporate parachute” over the years. Whether it was advice for dealing with difficult employees or tips for delivering effective training programs, their skilled hands helped me to land safely time and time again. And it’s because of those great people that I found the motivation and inspiration to become a parachute packer myself.

In fact, next week we wrap up the fourth and final session of ARM Summer School. It’s been a great event. I’ve had the pleasure to serve beside some incredible co-facilitators and together we’ve had the honor of packing parachutes for some very dedicated members of the credit and collection industry. I’m quite confident that their parachutes will function correctly every day they jump out of bed and into action on the call center frontline. The parachutes have certainly been packed with care.

You might not realize it, but you, too, are surrounded by parachute packers. Maybe it’s a trainer helping you jump to safely on a collection call or a supervisor offering a few words of encouragement to get you through the day. Just look around and you realize parachute packers can be found everywhere.

The Challenge

This week your challenge is to honor Captain Plumb’s call to action: “Give those people a call and thank them for packing your parachute.”

You might be tempted to send an email, post an update on their Facebook wall, or send them a text message, but resist the urge to do so. Actually pick up the phone and call. Your thank you will be much more sincere, and appreciated, if you do.

The Reflection

Who has had the biggest impact on your career? How/why?

Gary Jensen
Editor | collector mentor

To download companion worksheets to use with The collector mentor Challenge™, please visit

About collector mentor
Published bimonthly, collector mentor is a quick-read publication dedicated entirely to delivering articles and practical advice that teaches credit and collection professionals how to increase collection results, enhance productivity, improve teamwork, and become better stewards of the industry.

Next Article: Former American Idol Winner Pursued By Bank's ...