261. An Air Force Commercial Changed Her Life With a Career and a Dynamic Vision
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
She was working a dead-end job at a soon-to-be-defunct discount store. Arriving home one day, she found an eviction notice on the door and no sign of her father. She had no idea what to do next.
Eldonna is now a retired Air Force veteran with 23 years of honorable military service. She is a negotiation and contract expert, with over 30 years of leadership, contracts management and negotiation experience, and has negotiated contracts ranging from $1 million to over $100 million both in the United States and internationally. She has developed and taught courses on contract claims, negotiation and other aspects of contracting. She also has seven years of extensive experience working for defense contractors in the aerospace industry, and had been a trusted agent of the U.S. government for 30 years.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
As a teenager working at the now defunct Woolco discount store chain, Eldonna had an interest in computer programming. She hoped enlisting in the U.S. Air Force would give her the chance to learn it. “I scored really high on the AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) test and could have done almost any job in the Air Force,” she recalls, but when the jobs were posted, the programming job her recruiter had hinted she could land was not on the list. As the recruitment slogan had suggested, she aimed high, going after a job that required the highest test scores: contract specialist. She got the job, loved it, and excelled at it. “The funny thing about it is, I ended up working five of my 23 years as a computer system administrator within the contracting office.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
A recruiting commercial— “Air Force: A great way of life! Aim High!”—caught Eldonna’s attention when she didn’t know where to go next in her life. Her parents were alcoholics. Her mother died from the disease when Eldonna was 12. When she was 18, she returned home to find an eviction notice on the door and no sign of her father, who had moved to Florida, leaving no forwarding address. Today, looking back on her 23-year career in the U.S. Air Force, she says, “They basically saved my life. I ended up with two Associate’s degrees, a Bachelor’s degree, and then in the contracting career field as a contract specialist.” Those skills and experiences form the basis of her company, Dynamic Vision International, Inc.
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“One of my favorite coaching quotes is, ‘The power is in the work; if you do the work, you’ll have the power.’ Often, people don’t want to do the hard work of looking at themselves. For instance, as for me, I wanted to blame everybody else – ‘Oh, my parents were alcoholics and they set me up for failure and that’s why I can’t do this, that and the other thing.’ But it’s really about letting go of all that stuff and realizing you do have control. With my coaching clients I always have them ask themselves every day, ‘What do you absolutely love about yourself today?’”
Steps to Success from Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
1. Recognize that you do have the power to build the life you want.
2. Look deeply into yourself and let go of the barriers that are holding you back.
3. Don’t give up. Develop the tenacity to stick to your purpose.
4. Identify what you absolutely love about yourself, and then embrace it.
On Her Bookshelf
Streams in the Desert, by L. B. Cowman
Connecting With Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
52 of the most important negotiator tips to hep you create win-win results and understand the pitfalls to avoid at 52NegotiatorTips.com
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