An Audience with Neil Armstrong (2011 interview)

An Audience with Neil Armstrong (2011 interview)

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In this interview, the first man to walk on the moon gives a personal commentary on Apollo 11’s historic lunar landing along with his thoughts on leadership and taking risks to innovate for the future.

Neil Armstrong is a household name, yet, in contrast to his crew-mate Buzz Aldrin, he has studiously stayed out of the spotlight in the decades since he walked on the Moon. He frequently passed on interview and advertising requests, all the while beating back unwelcome advances on his legacy.

So it was a coup of sorts for Certified Practicing Accountants organization of Australia to score an extended interview with Armstrong, a connection that seems about as natural as a two-headed kangaroo. (CEO Alex Malley had developed the relationship, sharing his concerns about long-term strategic planning both in business and politics with Armstrong. The interview was a part of CPA Australia’s 125th anniversary celebration.)

Armstrong shows flashes of the rationality and equanimity that made him an ideal astronaut candidate in the first place. He confesses that he gave Apollo 11 a 90% chance of returning home safely, but just a 50% chance of landing on the Moon successfully. He expresses a sense of fate about his dangerous work as a test pilot and astronaut, refusing to worry about future tasks because he figured something would go wrong first and he’d be otherwise engaged firing the ejection seat or scrambling to repair a valve. Of his time on the Moon’s surface: “we weren’t there to meditate, we were there to get things done.”