First Job: My dad ran flourmills. My first job was loading 100-pound flour sacks into boxcars in the summertime. He taught me I'd better go get my education and find something else to do.
Career Moves: 1968, TWA, operations research group (sophomore in college). The day I started at TWA was the day that Howard Hughes left. Now, we've got some employees who are a lot younger, and I had a couple come up and ask me who Howard Hughes was. I don't say that anymore.
American Airlines, vice president sales; president, Sabre (11 years); Lifeco Services Corp., president (sold to American Express), stayed at American Express as executive vice president; CEO of Worldspan, 1995-1999; president, Homestore; WorldTravel BTI; chairman, TRX
Boards: Prior to WorldTravel BTI, held a seat on the Travelocity board of directors; NCR (Teradata) Transportation Advisory board; held positions on the boards of Travel Industry Association and the board and executive committee for Institute for Certified Travel Agents for several years; served on advisory boards for the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and the School of Business at the University of Texas.
What is the greatest business lesson you've learned?
Enthusiasm can certainly be influenced by your own. Unfortunately, the opposite -- call it pessimism and disengagement -- are equally as infectious. The good news is, the former doesn't cost any more than the latter, and you can have a lot more fun.
What is greatest biggest business challenge you've faced, and how did you overcome it?
Coming back from 9/11. It was a new world for me to work in. It was a lot of uncharted and uncertain waters. While I've been in the industry a long time, it was new people to work with, new customers to meet. Looking back, I was really pleased with the way we did things.
Whom do you admire most in business and why?
That's a real difficult one. Like a lot of people, I feel like I've had the great fortune of working with and around interesting and talented and smart people. Hopefully, I've learned a little bit from each and every one of them.
If you force me to pick one, I would probably tell you it was Bob Crandall, former CEO and chairman of American Airlines, who I worked with and around for a number of years. In one person, (there was) the strong intellect, the attention to detail, the energy, the enormous sense of urgency and a commitment to the industry. He was really something to behold.