5 Lessons Learned From Herb Kelleher

Hire for attitude, train for skill- Herb Kelleher

As  I think about all the times I was selected for an internship or job and when I asked for feedback. most of the feedback consisted of me having a great attitude. You don't have to be the best and brightest, you just have to have the right attitude. The attitude to overcome, the attitude that's humble enough to learn but wise enough to listen. 

Seeing all the post about Herb Kelleher made me really sad. I was sad about losing someone that I never met. I only know of him because of Southwest Airlines but I feel like Herb and I were friends, I feel like after studying his company and his leadership style that we developed a friendship. Herb developed a brand that made people feel like they were apart and I am a part in many ways. I fly Southwest, my fiancee is an employee of Southwest so I get to see and experience the culture of Southwest Airlines firsthand. He had a Servants Heart!!

In honoring of my friend Herb, I would like to share 5 lessons I Learned from him:

Lesson #1: Build a legacy that outlives you. Our days on this earth are numbered, but our purpose on this Earth is to use the time you are given to create something that will be crowning moments for others and ourselves.

When we think of Herb, we think of Southwest. His legacy is bedded within the fabric of the company. It is hard to mention one without the other.

What are you doing to leave your legacy?

Lesson #2: You may not be qualified in the eyes of everyone in the industry but when you are seeking to be an agent of change, do not allow the industry to change you. Go in to change the industry. In a podcast interview, Herb mentioned, "I knew nothing about airlines, which I think made me eminently qualified to start one because what we tried to do at Southwest was get away from the traditional way of airlines." Herb knew he was not qualified but he used what he had to revolutionize an industry and discovered an untapped market which made air travel affordable to all. He did not focus on what he did not have he fought to solve a problem within the industry

Lesson #3: People first. His people first. I recently read an article that described this Southwest Airlines Customer that complained after every flight, she always complained about what she did not like about the flight or airline but kept flying Southwest Airlines. The team sent the message to Herb and Herb told her that she will be missed. He understood that his people were first and he was willing to dismiss a customer for his employees. When employees see the CEO committed and accessible, that creates a culture of loyalty and trust. As Herb stated, "if the employees are first, then they are happy, a motivated employee treats the customer well., the customer is happy so they keep coming back which pleases the shareholders.

Lesson #4: Be confident in what you are bringing to the table. Although other airlines criticized him. He was confident in Southwest Airlines, that is why he fought so hard to turn the vision into a reality. He understood that the airline industry was for people who worked for corporations and he wanted to expand the market. He knew and had confidence in what he was doing and so should you. Trust and believe the world is waiting to see the best you

Lesson #5: Do not forget to laugh at yourself, as I listened to the podcast, read and heard stories about Herb. Him talking about his people was consistent but the things that people said about him was consistent as well. He enjoyed listening and learning about others. He made others laughed and smiled along the way, even myself.

The link to the How I Built This Podcast is below:


Thanks Herb!