Tag Archives: NUTS!

Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude

altitudeIn life, more than any other factor, your attitude pretty much determines where you will go… and how far you will go.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines attitude as “the way you feel about something or someone, or a particular feeling or opinion.”

Attitude in Teaching

When I entered the classroom, I brought what I knew about attitude from my years of managing to education. I knew that one’s attitude is contagious.

More recently I read about the work of Margaret McFarland, a professor of child psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. Ms. McFarland put it this way, “attitudes aren’t taught, they’re caught.”

“If a teacher has an attitude of enthusiasm for the subject, the student catches that whether the student is in second grade or is in graduate school. If you show them what you love, they’ll get it and they’ll want to get it,” McFarland says.

I know that many of my students used to tell me how they loved my excitement and enthusiasm that I displayed in sharing the material I was teaching.

Attitude in Managing

When I departed for my first solo general manager position in Atlantic City, my co-GM back in Massachusetts gave me these words of wisdom, “Whatever your attitude is, when you enter the radio station each day, will become the attitude of your fellow employees. Keep your problems to yourself and always maintain a positive, upbeat, enthusiastic attitude.”

It may have been the most important management advice of my forty-year radio management career.

Attitude in Hiring

Whenever any of my radio stations made a hire, my department managers did all the preliminary screening of candidates. When they had narrowed the field down to two or three finalists, I would meet with those people before a final hiring decision was made.

What was I looking for in my meetings? The person’s attitude.

I knew that in virtually all positions, we could quickly train someone to do the job. However, what we could not change was the attitude of the person.

Hire the people with the best attitudes and train everything else.

“A brand is shorthand for the customer’s expectations.

What promise do they think you’re making?

If you have true fans, the only reason you do is because

the group has engaged with you in a way that signals

that they expect something worthwhile from you next time.

That expectation isn’t specific, it’s emotional.”

-Seth Godin

Attitude in Your Brand

Attitude is emotional.

People love your brand, or they don’t, based on how they feel about your brand emotionally.

The passing of one of my mentors, albeit one I never met, Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, brought to mind how important employee attitude was in building America’s most successful airline.

Herb Kelleher didn’t believe the customer was his first priority, he believed his employees were.

“Your employees come first.

And if you treat your employees right, guess what?

Your customers come back, and that makes your shareholders happy.

Start with employees and the rest follows from that.”

-Herb Kelleher

Kelleher wrote in his book “NUTS!” that, “We will hire someone with less experience, less education and less expertise, than someone who has more of those things and has a rotten attitude. Because we can train people. We can teach people how to lead. We can teach people how to provide customer service. But we can’t change their DNA.”

According to U.S. government data and company records, Southwest has enjoyed 45 consecutive years of profitability, and in 2018 carried more domestic passengers than any other airline.

Attitude & Culture

Herb Kelleher said the secret to Southwest Airlines success, was one thing, “culture.” When you cultivate a good attitude in yourself, and when as a manager you hire people for their attitude, what you end up creating is a culture.

What kind of culture did Herb create at Southwest? The employees and retirees of Southwest Airlines placed a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal in tribute to Herb upon his passing this month. Here’s what they wrote: “Dear Herb, Thanks for always remembering our names. For keeping our airline flying high and our spirits higher. For always being there. For giving everyone (and we do mean everyone) a kiss on the lips. For arm wrestling for our slogan. For being both the hardest worker and the life of the party. And for turning a company into a Family. We will be forever in your debt, and we will aspire to keep your spirit alive. With love and gratitude, -The Employees and Retirees of Southwest Airlines”

herb kelleher tribute ad in wsj january 2019

Is it Time for a Checkup from the Neck Up?

What will the people who work with you, or for you, say about your attitude?

Is it time for you to change that?

What better time to begin cultivating a good attitude than with the start of a brand new year.

Step one is to be sure you’re doing what you love, because as Herb Kelleher said, “If you’re crazy enough to do what you love for a living, then you’re bound to create a life that matters.”

 

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Fly the Friendly Skies?

92What a difference from last Sunday morning to this Sunday morning.

United Airlines went from the penthouse to the outhouse for customer relations.

It seems like only a month ago that United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz was being heralded as “PR Week’s Communicator of the Year.” Oh wait, that’s because it WAS only a month ago this had happened. United Airlines even trumpeted this achievement in a press release.

Sh*t Happens

This is not another article about the incident itself or how it was handled. There are enough of those on the internet already. This article is about you and your media property in a social media internet connected world. We’re living on a knife edge. Only a word or thought vocalized away from disaster.

Every week when I post a new article on this very blog, that thought runs through my brain.

Imus

Don Imus was a big follower of Rutgers Women’s Basketball (who knew, right?) when he uttered a characterization of the players that temporarily ended his career.

Rather

Dan Rather reported a story about W’s military service that ended his tenure at CBS and one that many still hold against him all these years later. Ironically, he’s now on more TV channels than before it happened and has taken the social media by storm with his articles.

Williams

Brian Williams lost the anchor chair at Nightly News for embellishing and now is back on the cable channel that he worked while waiting for his chance to take over NBC’s evening newscast.

Greig & Christian

On December 2nd in 2012 Mel Greig and Mike Christian of 2DAY FM in Sydney, Australia called London’s King Henry VII’s hospital impersonating the Queen Mother and Prince Charles to speak with the Duchess of  Cambridge, Kate Middleton.

They spoke with Kate’s nurse, Jacintha Saldanha, who believed who they said they were and put the prank call through to the Duchess. The whole comedy bit for the Southern Cross Austero owned radio station morning show was pre-recorded and even approved by the company’s lawyers before it was broadcast the following day.

When the nurse committed suicide three days later, the radio careers of Greig & Christian would be terminated with 2DAY FM.

NUTS!

Let me show you a picture I took of three flight attendants because of how they treated their passengers on my flight.

89Steve, Carrie and Tom were the flight attendants on my flight from Nashville to Las Vegas in April 2012. The reason this picture didn’t go viral is because they did what Southwest Airlines is famous for. They made the flight FUN.

Actually, that’s an understatement of what these three did. They were a FREE comedy routine that kept the entire cabin in stitches. Totally hilarious. I don’t even remember another thing about that flight but them and how they made me feel.

Before I deplaned in Vegas for the annual BEA/NAB convention, I had to snap a picture of the three of them on my iPhone.

Southwest founder Herb Kelleher wrote his philosophy for starting Southwest Airlines in this must read book “NUTS!” Herb wanted to create a community of people who have a positive, joyful, engaging attitude that can throw caution to the wind and live a life of unabashed passion.

Author Tony Campolo put it this way: “NUTS! is about people who dare to love and who, in their loving, have found an aliveness that makes them more fully human.”

The Tragedy of Our Time

Herb Kelleher says that the tragedy of our time is that we’ve learned to love our techniques (technology) and use people. We’ve got it backwards.

“This is one of the reasons that more and more people feel alienated, empty, and dehumanized at work. When people feel loved, they love in return. Love is the most important emotion there is because it’s the one that allows us to enjoy — even to consider– all aspects of life.”

In case you didn’t know, when it comes to involuntarily bumping passengers, Southwest does it too. Actually, they involuntarily bumped three more passengers than United Airlines did in 2016. CNBC just posted the latest report on airline bumping.

But when it comes to ranking airlines by complaints, Southwest is the country’s major air carrier with the best ranking for least customer complaints. Could it be because they show the love?

Technology v. Being Human

Last week I wrote about what makes a radio station unique and what it can do that other media can’t in the 21st Century. You can read that article here.

Technology has enabled many radio companies to put technology ahead of the love. This is a BIG MISTAKE. Radio is a people business. Take out the people and what do you have left?

Reputations

I’d like to leave you with one final thought. Whether it’s you or your enterprise, guard your reputation.

Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute just spoke at my university and he said something to us that his father always said to him about guarding your reputation:

“You make a reputation over time, you lose it overnight.”

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What We Have Here, Is a Failure to Embrace Complexity

42The world we live in today is a complex place. The KISS operational style seems like it would be a good idea. (KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid) But maybe not.

Turns out in a complex world, being agile is more importance than being efficient. Being efficient kills innovation. Innovation today is the primary driver of building value and creating value is one of the basic reasons for any organization to exist.

Managing Complexity is a 21st Century Skill

People who can manage complexity will be the leaders of the future. Managing a radio station was complex due to the fact that radio has two customers, which want totally opposite things. One customer is the radio listener. This customer wants information and entertainment. This customer usually isn’t fond of commercials. The other customer is the radio advertiser. Anytime their ad isn’t dominating the airwaves and driving consumers into their store is a moment the radio station isn’t doing its job. To add to this complexity are the talented people needed to service both of these customers. Air personalities that attract listeners and sales folks that service advertisers.

Consolidation & Complexity

As the radio industry began consolidating after the Telcom Act of 1996, the traditional thinking of protecting margins was amplified. This resulted in reducing labor costs. RIFs became commonplace (RIF = Reduction In Force). For those that were left wages became stagnant, little money was invested in training and the number of people left in the workforce was reduced to a bare minimum.

The problem is, when you have low paid, poorly trained and overworked people, your operation lacks new and innovative ideas that can improve the business. When the only ideas that are introduced come from the tippy top, they rarely connect with the challenges seen at the front line.

Zeynep Ton writes in her book The Good Jobs Strategy about a discount retailer that took a different approach to their operation than most companies when the great recession of 2008 struck the world. Rather than cut wages or reduce staff, Ton says they asked their employees to contribute ideas. The result was that this company managed to reduce prices to their customers by ten percent while increasing their market share from 15% to 20% from 2008 to 2012.

Herb Kelleher writes in his book NUTS! about how Southwest Airlines created a culture where employees are treated as the company’s number one asset. Southwest does a number of things to benefit its employees, including such programs as profit-sharing and empowering employees to make decisions. This empowerment during the period when oil prices hit a high of $145 per barrel in 2008 saw the Southwest pilots taking the initiative to plot more efficient flying altitudes and work with ground crews to get in and out of the gates quicker to control the Southwest ticket prices and not lay off any people while maintaining a positive profit margin. These actions did not come from the corporate home office but from employees in the field.

What to Do When You Have Maximized Efficiency

Let’s face it; the ability for any radio operator today to squeeze out any more profit through efficiency is over. Radio consultant George Johns puts it this way: “Radio today is in the no business, it has no money, no time and no people.”

So what’s the answer? Collaboration.

The radio companies of the 21st Century will need to develop the ability to make collaboration a competitive advantage. The game has changed from what you own and control to what you can access. Access happens via platforms. Radio needs to create platforms that bring consumers and producers together, much like the Apple App store does globally, but locally for their service area.

Radio needs to find a way to attract listeners by causing them to be fearful of missing something if they’re not listening while directing them to local places via platforms they control that can fulfill their wants and needs on demand.

In other words, radio needs to “think different.”

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