“How you do anything is how you do everything”
I read this in line at SFO security, waiting an unnecessary amount of time for TSA to clumsily guide passengers through the line with that glazed over look on their faces that shows how little they care for you, or their job.
I was flying through Seattle airport for an interview in Spokane, WA and tried desperately to fly Virgin airlines, but they were booked solid so I had to fly Alaska.
A few years ago, I made this flight almost weekly-selling surgical equipment to hospitals throughout the Seattle area- I usually had procedures early in the morning, so I took the 7am Virgin flight. I’d wake at 5, rush to put on my business suit, grab a taxi, and arrived rushed.
I’d breathe a sigh of relief once I reached the Virgin gate.
Even as early as 6:30 am, the Virgin employees were smiling, well-
dressed and happy. At the gate, we played Ring Toss for free food, internet and upgrades. Then, as we got on the plane, there wasn’t that desperate plea for customers to give up their ticket because the flight was overbooked, no demand that you check luggage (for a fee) because the overhead was already filled, no pissed-off flight attendees.
Instead, it was like entering a night club-great lighting, cool decor and good looking people. Once we sat in our comfortable seats, there was a
handheld device where we could order food and drinks, watch movies, even flirt with other passengers over IM.
Sadly, for this flight -I was stuck with Alaska and the typical pleads for ticketed passengers to give up tickets and demands at the gate for your carry-ons because the ‘executive level’ passengers took all the overhead luggage space.
As I stood in line while the disgruntled attendee took our boarding passes (paper-not digital yet!), I turned to the man behind me and said “HOW can Virgin Airlines do this SO WELL and everyone else does it so BAD?”
Without missing a beat (and in a British accent), the man behind me exclaimed “It’s obvious! Virgin is run by a Brit!!!”
I was tempted to defend my country and Good Ol’ American work ethics, but……………
I’ve been on the receiving end of the lack of ethics and innovation from American companies-and those that reward ‘ants marching’ behavior vs. entrepreneurial skills. And, I’d become disillusioned with bad American leaders- men like Romney and Bain Capital. Sometimes in American business, it feels like companies are run by bratty fraternity types.
Once my flight landed, I went to the cheesy airport bookstore and found Richard Branson’s new book “Screw Business As Usual”.
Richard starts with the story of the hurricane that ruined his private island and his un-attachment to material things-(he even ran naked to rescue his mum and Kate Winslet when the fire spread)-he’s even un-attached to pants!!!
Richard’s philosophy is that social change can and MUST be made by those who have created and made-profit at corporations. That the entrepreneurial spirit is the best tool against the challenges of the world today: hunger, poverty, environmental-collapse, social-stagnancy.
He believes that CEOs, especially successful ones, have a RESPONSIBILITY to make the world a better place-who better to do so than someone successful?
And, as far as living the life of a billionaire celebrity-he views the purchases that come with it as such ““Ridiculous yachts, private planes, and big limousines won’t make people enjoy life more, and it sends out terrible messages to the people who work for them. It would be so much better if that money was spent in Africa – and it’s about getting a balance.”
Imagine the CEO’s here in Silicon Valley taking the same attitude?
As I read the book, I learned about his group ‘The Elders” comprised of Desmond Tutu, Peter Gabriel, Nelson Mandela and others.
These men are using their political independence and ‘almost 100o years of collective experience to work on solutions for problems like poverty, climate change and HIV/AIDS.
Imagine a world in which CEOs, Founders, Entrepreneurs actually think holistically…….outside of the companies they run. Imagine if the $1billion in Instagram equalled social consciousness and change -not on a bullshit SF-liberal level but a REAL Richard Branson-like level.
“How you do anything is you do everything”
Not just nice words on your iPad anymore…