Last month, I attended the Schwab IMPACT conference for investment advisors in San Francisco. This invitation-only financial-industry conference brings together independent investment advisors with influential presenters, exhibitors and experts to learn about and collaborate on key issues and best practices. It was my extreme honor to speak on a panel about building and managing an advisory business.

Photo Caption: Investment Advisor Mike McCann (left) with U.S. Navy Captain Mark Kelly at the Schwab IMPACT conference, November 2011

In addition to continuing education sessions, I had the pleasure of sitting in on inspiring keynote presentations by Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Maria Bartiromo, anchor of CNBC’s Closing Bell and host/managing editor of the nationally syndicated Wall Street Journal Report; and Charles Schwab, founder and chairman of the Charles Schwab Corporation. Their insights on the economy, global events and the future were enlightening.

American hero, U.S. Navy Captain Mark Kelly also was a keynote speaker at IMPACT. Kelly served in the Persian Gulf and flew in dozens of missions during Operation Desert Storm. During his tenure with NASA, Kelly  was an astronaut on four space shuttle missions, including one as the leader of Discovery and another as the commander of the final flight aboard Endeavour in May of this year. He spoke, in part, about the importance of thinking individually and dangers of falling into a “group think” mentality. “None of us is as dumb as all of us,” Kelly said, quoting a popular NASA saying.

He is married to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was the target of an assassination attempt in January 2011. Regarding Giffords’ surprise return to Congress in August 2011, Kelly asked, “Have you ever packed for your wife for a trip? This is the most risky thing I’ve ever done.”

Kelly’s overall message of leadership, perseverance and hope was both humbling and uplifting. He believes America must continue to be a leading presence in the world, sharing our values of freedom, family, community and self-reliance for the betterment of all humankind.