Vail’s Meghan Buchanan will talk about how to live with GGRITT at the Bookworm | VailDaily.com

Vail’s Meghan Buchanan will talk about how to live with GGRITT at the Bookworm

Meghan Buchanan will discuss GGRITT: Gratitude, Growth, Resilience, Integrity, Tenacity, Trust tonight at the Bookworm in Edwards.
Photo courtesy of GGRITT.com

If You Go …

What: Adventurer and aerospace engineer Meghan Buchanan discusses GGRITT: Gratitude, Growth, Resilience, Integrity, Tenacity, Trust

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5

Where: Bookworm of Edwards

Cost: $25 gets you Buchanan’s presentation, Angela Duckworth’s book “Grit,” appetizers and a glass of wine donated by Meghan.

Information: For information or advance tickets, go to www.bookwormofedwards.com, or call 970-926-7323.

For information about Meghan, go to GGRITT.com.

Meghan Buchanan is the coolest smart person you know.

She’s a dyslexic aerospace engineer and elite adventure athlete. She overcame a life-threatening femur break and is on her way to the top of all Seven Summits. For a living she’s helping lead a $115 million aircraft project for a major aerospace company.

Around all that she’s weaving her six pillars of GGRITT: Gratitude, Growth, Resilience, Integrity, Tenacity, Trust.

She’ll tell you about all that and more tonight at The Bookworm in Edwards, GGRITT for Women. It’s tailored to address challenges faced daily by incredible women, and how to rise above them.

“Men are invited too,” Buchanan said laughing.

GGRITT and regaling tales

Buchanan weaves her GGRITT presentation around some amazing tales.

There’s the time she and her trekking companions in Nepal were shaken down for money by machine gun-toting revolutionaries. She talked them down from $500 per person to $5. The revolutionaries gave her a receipt.

Then there’s the colonoscopy in Russia after ascending mountains. The colonoscopy took 36 hours. The mountain took six days. It’s an regaling story.

And of course there’s the time she nearly near died in Vail. She was laughing, smiling and loving the epic powder on Windows in Vail’s Sun Up Bowl on Feb. 6, 2011. Everything changed in an instant.

Buchanan blasted through the deep powder when she hit a fallen tree, buried under about 4 feet of new snow.

She broke the head off her left femur bone, twisting it so badly that the muscle and everything attached to it tore loose. She was bleeding to death.

There was so much snow that Super Bowl Sunday that the ski patrol had trouble finding her. Eventually, they followed the screams. The ski patrollers who rescued her said that they’d never heard those kinds of screams come out of a human.

Recovery was long and awful, but she’s back. She has vowed to climb the Seven Summits before her 50th birthday, which is still a ways away. So far, she has bagged Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro and Elbrus. This year it’s Denali, next year Everest. She’s looking for sponsors for her expeditions.

The beginnings of GGRITT

Buchanan was working on her master’s degree and sent an email to her friends asking for one word that describes her.

“Grit” was their most frequent response. She describes grit as “the ability to overcome challenges and have a positive attitude about it.”

It’s a pretty good acronym, and it suits her. She adapted it, as she does many things in her speed-of-sound world.

“I needed an extra G and T to get it all in,” she said smiling.

She learned grit and GGRITT from her father and grandfather, “The first loves of my life.”

Her grandfather was 1-year-old when he was placed in foster care. He died not that long ago at 99.

“Nothing was given to him. He earned everything. He used to say, ‘You’re given what you’re given. Spend your energy working at it, not crying about it,’” Buchanan said. “I wanted to help people who might not have been taught those lessons.”

She had just finished speaking about that very thing at a local high school when a girl walked up and asked, “Does life get easier?”

It grabbed Buchanan right by the heartstrings, and she wrapped the girl in a big hug.

“It doesn’t. But you get better at dealing with it,” she replied.

Her dad was also an aerospace engineer. He taught her to be strong and fair.

“Head down, move forward, stay professional,” Buchanan said, recalling her father’s advice.

That’s GGRITT. Stay the course and keep doing a good job, Buchanan said. Some days it’s easier than others.

Her first day on her first job out of college, she was paired with a 72-year-old man at a multinational aerospace firm. He told her she didn’t belong with that company or in that industry. Yes, she replied, she does.

These days she manages engineers of all your major genders. Some are easier than others.

She’s younger than many of those she manages. She’s single and contends with both accusations and innuendo about her professional success. She asks the question many high-powered professional women ask: “Why can’t me being good at what I do be good enough?”

It’s good enough for Lockheed Martin in Southern California, where she’s helping develop the F-35 fighter jet. For now, if you want to park a top-of-the-line F-35 in your garage it’ll cost you $100 million. She and her crew need to get the price down to $80 million.

Her work is in SoCal, but her heart and life are in Vail. She lived in Denver working for an aerospace firm, and snowboarded in Vail. After her injury she planted her flag in the valley and calls it home. Since she’s done in SoCal, the goal is to launch Rocket Girl Consulting in Vail.

Because rockets move almost as fast as she does.

Buchanan will discuss her adventures at The Bookworm of Edwards at 6 p.m.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.