Peter Platzer was a rock star on Wall Street when, in the prime of his career, he decided he wanted to do something different. Totally different. So he quit the world of high finance and enrolled in the International Space University (ISU) to pursue his dream of leveraging a greater understanding of space to improve life on Earth.
In 2012, he founded Spire Global, a provider of space-based data, and now serves as its CEO. Platzer’s career to date describes someone who certainly seems to thrive on change, but he will be the first to tell you he sees change as a “muscle” that must be regularly flexed in order to stay strong.
Platzer’s change-strengthening exercise of choice is squash, which a mentor suggested he take up after Platzer founded Spire. Platzer took up the sport and discovered that not only did it take his mind off work, it did something far more profound. When you play squash, said Platzer in the podcast, “The ball is flying around fast, and people are moving around without bumping into each other, and you are totally focused in the moment. It’s an almost mystical experience, one that can generate a massive regenerative effect.”
A recharged brain, contends Platzer, is a brain that will be “more open to new stimuli” and thus more creative. In the podcast, Platzer discusses some of the ways his Spire team stays in shape during the daily process of running the business, including these practical lessons:
• Determining the right pace of change for yourself and your organization.
• How to interview for culture as well as competencies using the “two-value” technique.
• Instilling a growth mindset through the principles of autonomy, mastery and purpose.
One of the leadership questions we pose to each of our guests on the podcast is how they turn a group of individuals into a high performing team. Platzer’s answer showed that even someone working in a futuristic industry, one which deploys tiny “nanosatellites” to gather information on weather, maritime and aviation patterns, can still rely on good old-fashioned teamwork.
“I always say we are one company and we have one set of values,” explained Platzer. “We express them through a common language we use when we recruit, evaluate and promote. Our culture is based on a growth mindset that says when you change you grow, when you grow you change.”