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Jeff "Odie" Espenship    

Top Workplace Leadership & Safety Expert, Author of "Target Leadership" & USAF Fighter Pilot

While Jeff originally hails from Lake City, FL., he spent most of his childhood among the kudzu and red clay of Georgia. Jeff chose the University of Georgia for his higher education and enrolled in the prestigious Air Force ROTC program.

Due to his demonstrated leadership and officer skills in cadet corps officer training, Jeff was awarded a full academic scholarship and a USAF pilot training slot. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Jeff spent a year cheating certain death and destruction earning his USAF pilot wings. He won the coveted “Commanders Trophy” as the overall top graduate of his pilot training class. Jeff also won the pilot training T-38 Talon’s “Hard Charger Award” for overall dedication to excellence and training.

Jeff became a USAF fighter pilot flying the venerable A-10 Thunderbolt, also known as the “Warthog.” He was stationed with the 18th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Eielson AFB in Fairbanks, Alaska.

While there, he qualified as one of the youngest 4-ship flight leaders in the entire squadron. He served as an instructor and was also combat search and rescue qualified. He won numerous Top Gun awards for air-to-ground bombing and gunnery. Odie was selected to attend The Air Force’s formal leadership training college for young officers, Squadron Officers School. Odie graduated in the top 7% of the entire school of over 400 officers.

Due to Jeff’s outgoing, personable, always smiling, eager to please personality, his squadron mates quickly gave him his call sign “Odie ” aptly named after the popular cartoon Garfield’s sidekick. Now, few people know Jeff by his first name…but simply call him “ODIE.”

After 6 years of dedicated service in the Air Force, Odie decided to fulfill another lifelong dream by becoming an airline pilot. He began his career with Delta Air Lines in 1992. He qualified on The Boeing 727, 757, 767, and McDonnell Douglas MD-11. He also was a line-oriented flight engineer instructor on the Boeing 727. He completed numerous Crew Resource Management Courses, including “Cockpit 2000” given to pilots by United Parcel Service. Odie continues to hone his flight skills as an international airline pilot, flying the Boeing 777.

Amid his tenure as an airline pilot, Odie also flew a 1943 T-6 “Texan” on the airshow circuit. A tragic accident took the life of his brother, as well as the life of the pilot. This significant event in Odie’s life ignited the spark that helped create what Target Leadership is today. From those humble beginnings in 2003, Odie and his team have grown Target Leadership into a well recognized brand for Culture-Leadership-Safety training among the nation’s top Fortune 500 companies including ExxonMobil, The Southern Company, John Deere, and Chevron.

Speech Topics


Leadership Safety: Be Accountable, not held accountable. There is a difference

Lead with Excellence

Maintaining a high level of performance means paying attention to the little things. Jeff "Odie" Espenship, founder of Target Leadership, personally knows the impact when leadership fails to execute safety fundamentals. By sharing his lessons learned as a United States Air Force fighter pilot, an air show performer, and an international airline pilot, his message in human behaviors has become one of the most sought after by companies worldwide. Odie gives an interactive, entertaining, yet powerful message on getting back to basics in life and leadership. It's the little things that can take an organization from the cellar to stellar. Odie discusses setting high expectations, speaking up, listening to what is NOT being said, overcoming complacency (the silent killer), never assuming, and communicating to understanding, to achieve new heights in life and leadership.

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