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Dennis Tito




Dennis Tito's Exclusive About The Ultimate "Power Trip" to Space

Besides being among the richest and most powerful businessmen in the world, Dennis Tito will go down in history as the world's first space tourist. This 62 year-old fit, fearless business tycoon paid a handsome US $20 million for the privilege of flying into space in May 2001 with the Russian space program (our own NASA frowned on it and wouldn't allow it here).

Tito became smitten with space travel while growing up in Queens, N.Y. The oldest child of working-class Italian immigrants, he remained dedicated to his early passions, and later went on to earn his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in aerospace engineering. In 1964, he went to work for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., where he charted flight paths for NASA's Mariner Mars probes, earning US $15,000 a year.

Tito then went into full business mode, starting a money-management company called Wilshire Associates and was a millionaire by the age of 40. His firm now manages more than US $10 billion in assets and advises on US $1 trillion in assets. Tito's personal fortune is now estimated at  US $200 million. He is divorced with three grown children. He resides in Pacific Palisades, CA, in an exquisite 30,000 square foot manor house with ocean views and an eight-car garage. Philanthropy and affecting positive change, particularly in the area of traveling and exploring space, are his current devotions. POWER recently sat down with Dennis Tito to talk about his experiences and continued journey to success.

PM: Power to influence the world has played a huge role in your life. How would you define power?
Tito: There are different forms of power. Charismatic power is when people will pursue you or become interested in you or even idolize you because you have charisma. Persuasive power is the ability to convince people or situations to do what you want them to do. Financial power is having the money to invest or to purchase property etc., to ultimately affect positive change in the world.

PM: Henry Kissinger has said that power for a man is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
Tito: Women generally like a real man and a real man is a man that exhibits manly attributes. One of those attributes is power. A woman will respect a man if he's strong and he's comfortable with his power. That's why power is the greatest aphrodisiac.

PM: You don't have a silver spoon background. You've worked your way up.
Tito: My parents were immigrants from Italy; my father was a painter, my mother a seamstress. I started with very little and became successful. Hard work often produces results. However, I do think that there is luck thrown in. Luck is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and having the right opportunities that are available. The other side is that you have to be prepared to jump at those opportunities and have your ducks in a row.

PM: You've had to have bumps in the road.
Tito: Sure I've had. You go through life with your ideas; sometimes they materialize, sometimes they don't. I've had good ideas, which didn't go anywhere because the timing wasn't right. Fortunately, I've had a number of ideas that hit pay dirt because the timing was right. You don't really know if the timing is right; you have an idea that makes sense. But you should always try and then only if you're successful, do you know that other people are ready for it. You can have an idea now that doesn't work but someone else picks it up ten years later and makes a go at it. I've had that happen.

PM: You were the first private citizen in space. You were floating up there for eight days. You then became an international celebrity. Heavy stuff, how did you feel?
Tito: I've waited 40 years to experience those feelings. It's been a dream of mine since I was a young man. I knew that getting into space was something that very few humans had done. As a private citizen, I was making history. I was going from someone who was not very known to coming back as someone who was well known. Being part an adventure that few people achieve is euphoric. I think about it every day and I quietly smile.

PM: Was it worth the US $20 million?
Tito: Absolutely! Every penny! With that said, I wouldn't spend US $20 million again. I've already achieved my dream and the value to me again would be a lot less. There was a lot of risk involved. I took that risk to achieve my life's dream.

PM: What's next for you Dennis?
Tito: My next goal is to be part of the space tourism industry and to contribute where I can to make space flight available to the general public.

PM: So having power in this world has served you well.
Tito: When you have power, people respect you no matter what kind of power it is. The real truth is that as human beings on this planet, we all want to feel important and to be respected. That's true from childhood on.

PM: Your final thoughts on the deeper meaning of power.
Tito: I firmly believe that power is something that should be used with discretion and not be abused. I see myself influencing people and situations through my own power without it being explicit. People view me as approachable and easy to talk to because I am.

The most powerful people in the world choose to use it in a ruthless way like Hitler did or in a benign way like Gandhi. I choose to emulate Gandhi to have a positive influence in the world. To do what I can to develop a whole new opportunity for the public to fly in and experience the grandeur and sacredness of space, not for US $20 million but for US $50,000. That's my specific goal. To expand the world's consciousness and bring us closer together as people that share the earth and space.

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