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Business Ideas – 3 Lessons from Herb Kelleher (Southwest Airlines)
Today we’re going to look at how a young lawyer who seemingly had it all bravely left his job to start his own business. He had to fight over 30 lawsuits and nearly went out of business but he stuck with it and created one of the most respected companies in America. This is the story of Southwest Airlines co-founder Herb Kelleher and the top 3 lessons that you can learn from his success.
“Your people come first, and if you treat them right, they’ll treat the customers right.” – Herb Kelleher
Herb Kelleher (born March 12, 1931) is the co-founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines. After graduating from law school he did what every new lawyer dreamed of. He clerked for the Supreme Court Justice, joined a law firm, and became partner at a firm in his wife’s home state of Texas. He should have been on top of the world but he was instead itching for a new career as an entrepreneur. One evening Kelleher was having drinks with a client, Rollin King, and that night the two used a cocktail napkin to hatch a new business, Southwest Airlines.
Using Kelleher’s legal experience and King’s business background, Southwest Airlines was set up to run only in Texas to avoid having to follow federal price regulations. Kelleher had found a legal loophole and his competition didn’t appreciate it. Kelleher had to fight off over 30 lawsuits before Southwest Airlines was even able to get a plane in the air. But they prevailed and bootstrapped their way from a company with only 4 planes to being one of the most admired companies in America.
Southwest is consistently named one of the top five Most Admired Corporations in America by Fortune magazine, which also called Kelleher perhaps the best CEO in America. It has never experienced an in-flight fatality and continues to enjoy growing success. Southwest is also the only airline to have over 30 consecutive years of profit, despite the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which threatened the rest of the industry. In 2001, Kelleher resigned as CEO and president of Southwest due to a personal battle with prostate cancer.
Action Item #1: Put Your People First
Action Item #2: Focus Everyone on Customer Service
Action Item #3: Hire the Right People
In the beginning, Southwest had just four planes and 70 employees. All of the legal battles had left the company on the verge of closing down. It forced Kelleher to make a difficult decision: he had to either sell one of the planes or lay off some of his employees. He chose to sell the plane. In return, Kelleher asked his employees to cut gate turnaround times from 55 to just 15 minutes. They pulled it off and Kelleher had clearly set the culture for his business.
“I learned it by doing it, and I was scared to death.”
“Sometimes you need a little courage too just to buck popular opinion.”
“The important thing is to take the bricklayer and make him understand that he’s building a home, not just laying bricks.”
The Trust Economy: David Etheredge
From stints at Walt Disney Interactive and Microprose software to the Director of International Business Development at Hasbro and as minority partner in renewable energy company, Wind Works, David Etheredge brings an eclectic mix of passion for theatre, technology know-how, and business acumen to his current venture, SavvyCard. Through SavvyCard, David leverages the growth of mobile devices to build the “trust economy”.
Finding Happiness Through Humor: Robert Haas
Congregation Mickve Israel’s new rabbi, Robert Haas, came to Savannah in 2012 by way of Texas, Israel and Africa. He was born in McAllen, Texas, graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, and taught in Houston’s public schools. He then lived and studied in Israel, entered rabbinical school and was ordained in the first Reform Rabbinical Class on the West Coast. After serving as a rabbi in Dallas and Houston, Robert went to Africa in 2011 as a volunteer with the American Jewish World Service. He now serves as the rabbi for the third oldest Jewish Congregation in America.
Mauro Guillen’s insight on the world economic market
Published on Jan 26, 2013
This week different countries all over the world have gathered in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. Mauro Guillen,VP of WEF Global Agenda Council on Emerging Multinationals and the professor from Wharton School, joined CCTV and gave his insight on the undergoing changes starting from Europe.
Explore the cause rather than criticize the action – Zig Ziglar
Worry is interest paid before it’s due – Zig Ziglar
Failure is a detour and not a dead-end street – Zig Ziglar
Where you start is not as important as where you finish – Zig Ziglar
The World’s Coolest Tax Shelters: Luxury Ranches in Texas
Exotic animals, luxury homes, souped-up trucks and speedboats can all qualify for tax breaks if you know the rules in Texas. We survey the territory with Jeff Soele, whose real estate company, Texas Best Ranches, specializes in the tax benefits of high-end ranch properties.
Zig Ziglar – True Performance – Leadership
Good leadership skills can be one of the most important aspects in your life, personally or professionally. In this episode of True Performance, host Chris Widener interviews legendary speaker Zig Ziglar on the topic of leadership. They discuss the qualities of an effective leader, as well as “who we are” and “what we do” that can help us become better leaders.
This is an inspirational story of two small children that demonstrates how caring about someone else helps us overcome our fears. Leaders that care make decisions for the right reasons, though not always the easiest thing to do.
C. Hilton was born in the unincorporated town of San Antonio currently known by the U.S. Census as San Antonito – Socorro County, in the New Mexico Territory. His father, Augustus Halvorsen “Gus” Hilton, was an immigrant from Norway, and his devout Catholic mother, Mary Genevieve (née Laufersweiler), was an American of German descent. Hilton grew up with eight siblings: Felice A. Hilton, Eva C. Hilton, Carl H. Hilton, Julian Hilton, Rosemary J. Hilton, August H. Hilton, Helen A. Hilton, and Baron Hilton.
Hilton attended Goss military (New Mexico Military Institute), and St. Michael’s College (now the College of Santa Fe), and the New Mexico School of Mines (now New Mexico Tech). He was a member of the international fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon. In his early twenties, Hilton was a Republican representative in the first New Mexico Legislature, when the state was newly formed. He served two years in the U.S. Army during World War I.
The most enduring influence to shape Hilton’s philanthropic philosophy beyond that of his parents was the Roman Catholic Church and his sisters. He credited his mother with guiding him to prayer and the church whenever he was troubled or dismayed — from the boyhood loss of a beloved pony to severe financial losses during the Great Depression. His mother continually reminded him that prayer was the best investment he would ever make.
As a young boy, Hilton developed entrepreneurial skills working at his father’s general store in Socorro County, New Mexico. His first hotel purchase was the 40-room Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas, in 1919, an investment decision made after his plan to invest in a bank in the oil-boom town fell through; the hotel did such brisk business that rooms changed hands as much as three times a day. He went on to buy hotels throughout Texas. The first high rise hotel he built was the Dallas Hilton, which opened in 1925. This was followed by the Abilene Hilton in 1927, Waco Hilton in 1928, and El Paso Hilton in 1930. He built his first hotel outside of Texas in 1939 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is today known as the Hotel Andaluz. During the Great Depression Hilton was nearly forced into bankruptcy and lost several of his hotels. He was retained as manager, however, and eventually bought them back. He formed the Hilton Hotels Corporation in 1946 followed by Hilton International Company, in 1948.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Hilton Hotels’ worldwide expansion facilitated both American tourism and overseas business by American corporations. At the same time, it promulgated a certain worldwide standard for hotel accommodations. It was the world’s first international hotel chain. In all, Hilton eventually owned 188 hotels in thirty-eight cities in the U.S., including the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D. C., the Palmer House in Chicago, and the Plaza Hotel and Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, along with fifty-four hotels abroad. He later purchased the Carte Blanche Credit Company and an interest in the American Crystal Sugar Company, as well as other enterprises.
Hilton received honorary degrees from the University of Detroit (1953), DePaul University (1954), Barat College (1955), Adelphi College (1957), Sophia University, Tokyo (1963), and the University of Albuquerque (1975). Hilton’s autobiography, Be My Guest, was published in 1957 by Prentice Hall. In 1966, Hilton was succeeded as president by his son Barron and was elected chairman of the board.
In 1942, Hilton married actress Zsa Zsa Gabor. They had one child: Constance Francesca Hilton, before divorcing in 1946.
In 1976, Hilton married Mary Frances Kelly. Their marriage lasted until his death in 1979.
The Hilton family fortune
In 1979, Hilton died of natural causes at the age of 91. He is interred at Calvary Hill Cemetery, a Catholic cemetery in Dallas, Texas. He left $500,000 to each of his two surviving siblings and $10,000 to each of his nieces, nephews and to his daughter Francesca. The bulk of his estate was left to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which he established in 1944. His son, Barron Hilton, who spent much of his career helping build the Hilton Hotels Corporation, contested the will, despite being left the company as acting President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board of Directors. A settlement was reached and, as a result, Barron Hilton received 4 million shares of the hotel enterprise, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation received 3.5 million shares, and the remaining 6 million shares were placed in the W. Barron Hilton Charitable Remainder Unitrust. Upon Barron Hilton’s death, Unitrust assets will be transferred to the Hilton Foundation, of which Barron sits on the Board of Directors as Chairman.
On December 25, 2007, Barron Hilton announced that he would leave about 97% of his fortune (estimated at $2.3 billion), to a charitable unitrust which would eventually be merged with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. By leaving his estate to the Foundation, Barron not only donated the fortune he had amassed on his own, but also returned to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation the Hilton family fortune amassed by his father, which otherwise would have been gone to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation 30 years previously had Barron not contested his father’s will.
- Conrad Hughes Hilton (the son of Richard Hilton), and Conrad Nicholson Hilton III (son of Conrad Nicholson Hilton, Jr.), are named after him.
- The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was established in 1944 by Conrad N. Hilton. Its mission is the alleviation of human suffering worldwide.
- Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize created in 1996 by The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
- The Conrad N. Hilton College is a hospitality school of the University of Houston named after Conrad Hilton.
- The Conrad N. Hilton Chair in Business Ethics, The Hilton Distinguished Entrepreneur Award, and the Conrad N. Hilton Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship at the College of Business Administration Loyola Marymount University
- Conrad Hilton is the great grandfather of Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton.
- In 2009, a fictional version of Hilton (portrayed by actor Chelcie Ross) appears in six episodes of the third season of the AMC television series Mad Men.