Born: 1944, Bellows Falls, Vt.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Becker Junior College (now Becker College), Worcester, Mass., 1964
First job: Working for a paper company, typing bills for the company’s truck drivers.
I learned a lot in that job. One thing was to not pay too much attention to what other people told you about who you should talk to and who you should stay away from. It’s a long story, but I learned as long as you are respectful to other people, they will return that favor.
My house burned down while I was working there. ... The truck drivers, whom I had been warned to never talk to by a librarian-type person who hired me, took up a collection and bought me a winter coat, which is very much needed in Vermont.
What publications do you regularly read?
I read a lot of industry stuff, Aviation Daily, which is our (industry’s) daily publication. I read a lot on HR or personnel issues.
I read just about anything on marketing and branding. I eventually read anything that comes across my desk. Sometimes it may be months after the fact.
What business book have you read recently?
I love James Collins’ stuff, and I’ve read all of his books. We’ve been studying another man’s books also, Patrick Lencioni. He has written several business books in a fiction style. We’ve used his work a lot. We’ve had him come and speak to our leadership group, as we have Jim Collins, who is an excellent speaker.
What’s been your biggest business challenge?
We have them all the time. Currently, besides being able to make a little bit of money in our industry, the biggest business challenge we’ve had is getting rid of the Wright Amendment. [The Wright Amendment is a 1979 federal law that restricts travel into and out of Dallas Love Field for commercial flights with more than 56 seats. Last fall, Congress voted to end those restrictions.] That’s been a 27-year-battle for me and certainly one that I’ve spent the last 10 or 12 months on full time.
What’s been your biggest business lesson?
I learn every day. To listen, evaluate and probably my biggest personal business lesson is not to be too quick with my decisions.
I’m pretty quick with my decision-making. I’m a fast processor.
What are your personal goals?
I don’t have any. Honestly, I’m not very career-driven. I’m project-driven. I’m cause-driven. I never really aspired to have the job I have.
My passion is customer service. The culture at Southwest makes it absolutely impossible for me to get bored with that passion. We treat and deliver our customer service delivery package the same internally as externally.
I love people and I’m a problem solver and I love to solve problems. ... Personal satisfaction is 10 times more important to me than position.