The Navy Gulf War Veteran, Robert DeLaurentis served in the military for 14 years and earned accounting degree from the University of Southern California as well as an advanced degree in graduate studies in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica. During his reserve time, DeLaurentis went on and worked for Arthur Andersen, bought real estate in San Diego, and wrote best-selling books such as: “Zen Pilot: Flight of the Passion and the Journey Within,” “Flying Thru Life: How to Grow Your Business and Relationships Through Applied Spirituality,” and his two newest books, “Peace Pilot: To the Ends of the Earth and Beyond” (coming 2021) and the children’s book “The Little Plane that Could.”
In order to give back to the world, the “Peace Pilot” founded the publishing company Flying Thru Life and the charitable organization, DeLaurentis Foundation. Through these organizations, DeLaurentis aims to inspire people and organizations to accomplish their dreams through the wonder of flight and the power of courageous action.
DeLaurentis is also an aviation circumnavigator, speaker, pilot, real state entrepreneur, and philanthropist. The San Diego Mayor’s Office and City Council awarded DeLaurentis the “Spirit of San Diego Day” Proclamation in honor of his courage, resourcefulness, and contribution to the community.
What was your experience in the military?
I had four years of active duty and 10 years of reserve duty. My active time was on the USS Leahy CG 16 — a badass 1960 guided missile cruiser upgraded with NTU (New Threat Upgrade.) My reserve time was spent at COMTHIRDFLEET, on USS Carl Vinson CVN 70 (Temporary Duty) and a Naval Control of Shipping Unit in San Diego.
Tell us about your transition from military to civilian life?
When I left the Navy after completing my two-year commitment in the O.S.A.M. (Officer Surface Air Mariner) program, I went to work for the largest public accounting firm in the world: Arthur Andersen. It was an easy transition, as I already had a degree in Accounting and some great real-world experience from the Persian Gulf War. During the two years I worked at Arthur Andersen — and for another eight years — I was also in the Naval Reserves.
To raise money to buy properties, I went back into the active military four times for six months at a time on ADSW (Active Duty Special Work) during my 10-year reserve period. I was buying real estate in San Diego at the time when the market was down, and each time I went back into the Navy I was able to get loans to buy more commercial real estate.
What is your business and what do you do?
I built a small real estate empire of almost 300 rental units in San Diego over 20+ years once I got out of the military. I retired at age 47 and started pursuing my greatest passions in life: spirituality and flying.
4 years ago, I started the DeLaurentis Foundation to give back to the world. The DeLaurentis Foundation is currently helping to fund my polar circumnavigation, with the help of 90 amazing sponsors, in the “Citizen of the World” aircraft.
I’m carrying experiments for NASA and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography over the North and South Poles. My flight showcases aviation safety, technology, and STEM as well as using biofuels over both poles for the first time ever. With the help of a camera crew, we are also filming an eight-part docuseries called “Peace Pilot: To the Ends of the Earth and Beyond” while I write a book by the same name in hopes of earning the Nobel Prize in Literature.
What are 3 things you learned in the military that you have applied to your business?
Respect, responsibility, and integrity are the three most important things I learned in the military. These are qualities that I didn’t always find in the civilian world, but which were the cornerstones for building a few successful businesses.
How have you used your success to send the ladder back down (pay it forward)?
I have dedicated my life to giving back what I have learned on my journey. My first book “Flying Thru Life” details how I incorporated 19 spiritual concepts in business which resulted in 300% growth in my real estate business in five years.
I then did my first circumnavigation in the “Spirit of San Diego” aircraft back in 2015 along the equator to show the world that these concepts, properly applied, work. I documented the learnings from that journey in my second book, “Zen Pilot: Flight of Passion and the Journey Within.”
Where can readers find you on social media?