Best-Selling Author of 8 Books (Kevin Freiberg) Teaches the Southwest Airlines Super Systems for Success

Show Notes

Best-Selling Author of 8 Books (Kevin Freiberg) Teaches the Southwest Airlines Super Systems for Success

Description – What makes Southwest Airlines the most financially successful airline year after year? Kevin Freiberg the best-selling author of 8 books and the speaker of choice for ConocoPhillips, Fedex, Bank of America, MGM Resorts, AT&T, and so many others breaks down his book NUTS! Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success.

  1. Thrive Nation, welcome back another mind-expanding edition of The Thrivetime Show. On today’s show, we are interviewing Kevin Freiberg. I was first introduced to the work of today’s guest in 2005 when the head of the multi-billion dollar QuikTrip convenience store chain recommended that I read the book Nuts!: Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success which was written by Kevin Freiberg and his wife Jackie Freiberg in 1998. And newest of Kevin and Jackie’s books that I’ve read is called CAUSE: A Business Strategy for Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness. This book breaks down the caused-based approach to leadership found at the core of TOMS shoes, Lululemon, Virgin, Southwest Airlines and PepsiCo. Kevin, welcome onto the show my friend!
  2. Kevin, throughout the year both you and your wife had established yourselves as being powerhouses in the non-fiction business space, when did you both decide that you wanted to become full-time business authors?
    1. A long time ago, I had a passion for being in the speaking business and didn’t just want to be a motivational speaker.
    2. We launched it by releasing a book called Nuts!
  3. Kevin, what inspired you to study Southwest Airlines and to write such an epic book about the airline?
    1. Having lost Herb Keller early this year, Jackie and I realize that no one has made an impact on our lives more than Herb.
    2. We were on a flight and someone that worked for Southwest Airlines told us that we needed to meet Herb.
    3. We are forever grateful that they gave us “greenhorn” authors a chance
      1. Only 737s
      2. Merit-based pay
      3. Ticketless
      4. Funny overhead announcements
    4. “We have a strategic plan. It’s called ‘doing things’.” – Herb Kelleher
    5. “Treat your employees like customers.” – Herb Kelleher
      1. Early on, I cornered Herb and asked “Who comes first?” he responded in an instant “It’s always the employees.”
      2. 1st Employees
      3. 2nd Customers
      4. 3rd Shareholders
    6. “You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.” – Herb Kelleher
      1. You can train people to do whatever the job is. What you can’t train is the character and raw personality that people bring to the business.
      2. Culture is their secret weapon because it is very hard to replicate.
      3. It is easier to get into Harvard and Yale than it is to get into Southwest Airlines.
    7. They start vetting people in the interview process.
      1. They would tell you “If you work here, you will never have enough resources to do what we ask you to do. You will have to do more with less. If you don’t like that, no sweat. We will love you as a customer.”
  4. Kevin Freiberg, when getting ready to write Nuts!: Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success, what did your research preparation look like?
    1. My wife takes a large role in writing. We don’t write on anything unless we are invested and know about the company or person.
    2. I realize that you have to show up. You have to look the person in the eyes in person. Part of our process has always been to show up and meet the people.
    3. We have turned down many books over a long period just because we knew it would not be a good fit.
    4. You have to believe that the company is one that you agree with and you can be passionate about.
    5. We ask what the major themes are and start there.
    6. Jackie and I both write on the go. We write more on airplanes than on the ground.
    7. We tired working out of our house for a while and realized that our work is all over the world and not in one office. We ended up buying a home that had a few offices in it.
  5. Kevin, I know that Nuts! Came out in 1997, yet there are many powerful and applicable nuggets of knowledge in there related to innovation, disruption, and change. I would like to take a moment to have you break down a few of the powerful concepts that I took away from the book.
  6. On page 14 of the book you write, “Southwest Airlines was the brainchild of Rollin King, a San Antonio entrepreneur who owned a small commuter air service and his banker John Parker. Parker had complained to King that it was inconvenient and expensive to travel between Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio and suggested starting an intrastate airline.” Kevin, I’d love to have you share more about this story?
    1. Rollin had the idea and Herb was a very young brilliant attorney and found that this was a market that wasn’t being served.
    2. In those days, flying was an elite thing for the wealthy.
    3. They decided to fill a part of the market that was empty.
    4. Herb, at 36, incorporated Southwest Airlines. He faced much adversity from competitors and that sparked Herb’s competitiveness. If they would not have confronted Herb, the company, more than likely would have failed.
    5. When the company almost went under, they had to sell a plane but Herb told his team that they had to keep the same flight schedule with one less plane.
    6. They asked him how and he told them they have to get the airplane ready to fly again after flying 10 minutes earlier. They asked how they were going to do that, he told him that they would have to figure it out.
    7. They took the pit crews at NASCAR as inspiration. They understood that the race is won in the pit and not on the track.
  7. Kevin Freiberg, as I read your book I was blown away about how difficult it was for Southwest Airlines to get started and that they almost ran out of money before they even begin providing air travel to passengers. I’d love for you to share with our listeners about the trouble they ran into when attempting to start the company?
  8. Kevin, when it comes to innovation, no airlines has changed the game as much as Southwest Airlines, and on page five of your book you write, “With the lowest fares in almost every market it serves, Southwest Airlines is the driving force behind the steady decline of ticket prices since regulation.” I’d love for you share some examples of how their focus on providing the lowest fares possible has driven innovation?
    1. They have really taken their cost structure to become a cause.
    2. They realized that there were people who needed to travel. There were children who needed to get to their parents. There were people who couldn’t afford the crazy expenses to see their family. They understood that lowering costs was a cause.
  9. Kevin, on page 34 of your book you wrote, “Bill Franklin’s mandate not only enables Southwest to maintain its regular schedule, but it was also a key factor in helping the company achieve the best on-time performance in the industry. The ten-minute turn became Southwest’s signature.Kevin, I’d love for you to share this story and the innovation of the ten-minute turn?
  10. Kevin Freiberg, you wrote that “During the first year of operation, when half of Southwest’s $700,000 advertising budget was spent in the first month, word of mouth became the best and only affordable form of advertising. “For the talk value,” says then secretary Sherry Phelps, “we decided that we needed to make our company absolutely outrageous.” Kevin, I would love to you share about the outrageous uniforms worn by the early flight attendants and the overall theme of “Now there’s somebody else up there who loves you.”?
    1. One of the big things that they did was they had a $19 fare between the two cities.
    2. Other companies came in and said “We can do it in $15”
    3. Southwest told the customers “Fly with us and we’ll send you home with a bottle of whiskey”
    4. It created a “viral” sensation before the internet existed
    5. Back in the day, they would hire attractive people that would wear “Hot Pants”. They made sure they would have big and fun personalities.
    6. They wanted to make their customers feel relaxed. Now, airlines are a stuffy environment. Who would you fly? The stuffy one or the fun one?


  1. Kevin, so much of Southwest’ success and innovation as a company came as a result of trying to fight for their survival. Can you share how this competition fueled their innovation as a company?
  2. Kevin, as you were writing Nuts! between Jackie and yourself you conducted more than 75 face to face and telephone interviews and surveyed 166 stations managers, provisioning managers and Culture Committee members across Southwest’s route system, how did you go about gaining access to all of these people?
  3. Kevin, Southwest is a bizarre company in they believe in trying to keep prices as low as possible. Can you share about some of the innovations that have come about as a result of their commitment to keep prices as low as possible?
  4. Kevin, I would for you to share about the innovation that occurs at Southwest as a result of the leadership being 100% committed to focusing on the core principle of: “Southwest Airlines exists to make a profit, achieve job security for every employee and to make flying affordable for more people”?
  5. Kevin, at Southwest they believe customers come second, can you explain what this means?
  6. Kevin, why did the strategy of flying only Boeing 737 aircraft allow Southwest to become so much efficient and profitable?
  7. Kevin, at its’ core Southwest Airlines, is a fun-loving company that loathes the titles and trappings of “terminal professionalism.” Why has Southwest been able to be so successful while having so much fun when most of their competitors have been very serious and very unprofitable?
  8. Kevin, Southwest Airlines has one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry, I’d love to have you share how they are able to retain their quality people year after year when most of their competitors struggle with major employee turnover year after year?
  9. Kevin, on page 65 of your book you quote former Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher as saying, “Anybody who likes to be called professional probably shouldn’t be around Southwest Airlines. We want people who can do things well with laughter and grace.” What did Herb mean by this?
  10. Kevin, on page 73 of your book you write, that Southwest Airlines believes in “Train for skill. Hire for spirit, spunk and enthusiasm.” Can you break down what this means?
  11. Kevin, if you could go back and coach yourself as a startup entrepreneur, what advice would you give yourself that you wish you would have had earlier?
  12. Kevin, on a personal level, what is the most powerful piece of advice that you’ve ever discovered as a result of your research?
  13. Kevin, you a very intentional and purposeful person, I’d love if you would share with the listeners what the first 4 hours of your typical days look like?
    1. I wake up at 5:30 AM
    2. I have a son who commutes 40 minutes of school so we are commuting in the morning
    3. My day begins with reading and prayer.
      1. I believe we’ve been given gifts and talents and want to get in sync with God’s agenda
    4. Then we are either on an airplane or writing our next project.
    5. My wife works out a lot so I typically find myself working out at some point.
    6. I have no interest in retiring. If I could die on a stage giving wisdom that would be great. I believe we are here to be used and give our talents.
  14. What are some of the other books you have written that our listeners should check out?
    1. GUTS!
    2. Nanovation
    3. Bochy Ball!
    4. CAUSE!
      1. The question we ask is “What if you stop talking about your business as a ‘company’ and more of a cause.”
      2. When you go to bed at the end of the day, don’t you want to know that you did something that made a positive impact on the world? This book helps you figure out what you cause is.
      3. If you find that cause and build a movement, you’re doing something great.
  15. Kevin, your books are jam-packed with knowledge bombs. My friend, what does your process of writing a book look like?
  16. Kevin, you’ve become successful as a result of doing things a certain way, what is one thing that you do everyday that most people do not do?
    1. I learned a long time ago that, when you travel so much and are in front of so many people, you can simplify everything. I have a shirt that I wear and I never change it up. I can’t spend my time picking clothes. I need to be talking to people.
  17. Other than yours, what are the books you believe every entrepreneur should read?

ACTION ITEM: Think about the culture in your office right now. Would you want to come work for you? Are you providing mentorship, a cool place that people want to work? Southwest has a waiting list on applicants because how they treat their employees and the culture that people talk about.

Business Coach | Ask Clay & Z Anything

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Thrive nation on today’s show, we are in a few weeks. The man, the myth, the legend, the bestselling author of eight books. He’s a leadership expert sought after speaker. He’s the man with the plan and he’s onto the showman. He’s a business school. It’s a gentleman’s Kevin Fryberg.

Sam shows don’t need a celebrity in a writer to introduce the show. This show dot. Two Man, eight k Koch created by two different women, 13 mode time million dollar businesses. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the thrive

what you started with bottle. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Rodney Shah. On today’s show, we are interviewing the legendary best

selling author, deemed credible, the wonderful, what an old name. Mr Kevin Fryberg. Kevin, how are you sir?

Doing Great. Clay and yourself

today has been a great day. Today’s been a oh we every day I think as an entrepreneur, as a, as an adventure, but we had a lot of wins here, a lot of exciting wins in the thrive nation. And uh, you being the pinnacle of the winds, my friend. So thank you for investing. Well you, um, for the listeners out there that aren’t familiar, I mean, you do these deep dives into what makes organizations and companies successful that are epic. You and your wife work on these books together and I just want to ask you, when did it occur to you or when did it, when did it occur to your wife that you two would team up to become full time nonfiction business authors?

Well, I think a long, long time ago, I hate to say it that way, but, uh, I had a passion for being in the speaking business and realized that, um, didn’t want to just be a motivational speaker, wanted to do something that had depth and deep background research started dad and we, um, launched it was a book called nuts and we use, got so busy right away that Jackie left her role at the university and came to work with me and we’ve been doing it really ever since. And, uh, she just makes me better. So I’m glad she made that choice.

You when you wrote the book nuts, the southwest airlines crazy recipe for business and personal success. Uh, that was, I do believe in, in 1997 I believe. And I had just started my first company called Dj in 1999 and my uncle John [inaudible] flew, he was a plebe as a pilot. He retired a pilot for southwest airlines. He was a navy pilot and the right after the navy to fly for, for our southwest. And I saw a book on his shelf and I thought, I’ve got to read this book. And so as I was reading the book nuts, it blew me away how much access you had to southwest. And it was so actionable. And I implemented a lot of the things I learned in that book. What inspired you to first study southwest airlines into right, such an epic, deep dive book,

unprecedented access in that book. Uh, herb Kelleher on January, probably no more. There’s no person in the world right now that Jackie and I would say has had a bigger influence on our careers, on our thinking about business and about life. Really. Uh, than herb. And it all started with, um, I was traveling in and out of Texas from Albuquerque with a Spanish boot manufacturer trying to establish distribution company here in the u s and I flew on southwest and I knew I was going to go to graduate school and studied business and communication. And long story short, I met a flight attendant who said, well, you need to come down to our company and meet Herbie and I’m going, who the heck is Herbie? And the more she began to describe the company, the culture, and certainly the personality of Herb Keller her, I just said, well, I have to go to him and see him. And that’s what started it all. It culminated in a doctoral dissertation, uh, back in 1987 for me. And four years later, Jackie wrote another one, uh, on a broader perspective of the company. But by the time we got to nuts, we’d written to doctoral dissertations and knew them pretty well. And uh, we’re just forever grateful that they gave a couple of green horn authors and opportunities.

You had such a deep dive access all access pass into the company. I would love to see if you could break down three herb Keller notable quotables for me. I’ll ones that I have, you know, in my office here, first one he’s Keller talked about, and I’m, I’m, I’m quoting herb, he said, treat your employees like customers. Could you explain to the thrive nation what that means?

Yeah. You know, early on, uh, I actually culinary herb one day, like you could have a corner and right. I cornered him and I said, herb, who comes first? Really in your mind, the employees or the customers? He didn’t blink an eye. He just said it’s always our employees. Because if you treat your employees right and you treat them like the internal customers that they are and give them the same kind of deference and honor and treat them with the same kind of dignity that you would a customer, they’re going to take care of your customers. And guess what, when they do that, shareholders become pretty happy. So, you know, he looked at it in a, in a hierarchy of employees, customers and shareholders. And I think he got that right.

No, it went on to say, he says you don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You could always teach skills that really impacted my business. Dj uh, helped, helped us grow and scale the company before I sold it. Can you talk about what that means? Don’t hire for skills and train for attitude.

Yeah. You know, the, in that case you can train people to be a gate agent. You can train people through, you know, type ratings to fly a seven 37 and everything in between the mechanic via raz agent. But what you can’t train is the character and the raw personality that someone brings to the business. And as you probably know, there’s, you know, there are people who are multiply. There are people who add, there are people who divide. They’re people who subtract


want that. They want entrepreneurial people who are going to multiply and add to the, to the culture because culture is their secret weapon. And it’s a secret weapon because it’s hard to replicate, right? We can fly seven 30 sevens we can, you know, reverse engineer your, your training process for flight attendants and copy that. But what you can’t copy is the spirit of the joint, the, the, the personality of the, of the company. And that comes from the kind of people that you bring into the family. And so there, uh, clay, I’ll tell you, this is statistically true. It’s easier to get into Harvard and Yale then it is to get into southwest airlines because they have so many people applying. And when you build a Jackie and I call a branded culture, a culture, a company where the culture is as famous as the products and services services that you sell, when you have a brand of culture, then you have an opportunity to cherry pick, right? Because you have more people knocking on the door, then you can write in and you can afford to be incredibly selective. And that’s what keeps the culture appear.

My uncle who worked for southwest airlines as a pilot, he told me that southwest airlines, they have the three, these three moves they do. And I said, well, what are the three moves? He said, uh, if you, if you, if you work at southwest, you’re funny or you at least appreciate humor, you like to get stuff done and you want to help lower costs. Could you talk about that? I mean, when they interview people, how do they find these funny, upbeat people that want to lower costs?

Well, you know, they start with a psychological contract and the interviewing process, which I think is just the right kind of crazy, if you will, and it goes like this. If you were interviewing, they would say something to the effect of play. Uh, if you want to come to work here, you are never going to have enough resources to do what we’re going to ask you to do. But that’s who we are. We’re innovators, we’re pioneers, and we take great pride and wear as a badge of honor, doing more with less, finding a way to get great things done with limited resources. Now if you don’t like that, no sweat, we will always love you as a customer. You just may not be a fit as an employee. But if that kind of thing turns you on, then you may be a fit for us. And it’s just one way that they can begin to determine, you know, when people react to that kind of statement, right, they can start to determine whether or not you have the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that’s going to add value to the company.

Well, Kevin, I want to tell you specifically how you impacted my business. Cause I know you wrote this book in 1997 and I sold the company Dj Connection in 2007 and we grew it to be the America’s America’s largest wedding entertainment company, a Dj’s and entertainment sound lights for weddings. And so here are four ways you impacted me because I know you never get a chance to hear this from your people who implement your book. But one you wrote about south southwest only flies seven 30 sevens. So I switched to where every system was the same and it dramatically decreased my maintenance costs. It was awesome. Ah, merit based pay, paying people based upon what they do not versus what not and not based on what they say they’re gonna do. So I implemented merit based pay. A southwest went ticketless and I thought, how can I give ticketless I know what I do, I’m not what I’ll do. I’ll email people receipts but I’m not going to invoice. You know, come back in the day, the wedding industry, you would invoice the mother of the bride, they would mail you a check and it was this whole process of collecting the checks and I went ticketless so to speak. And then the funny overhead announcements, I thought to myself, I need to make our company funny, sweet, funny on hold music, funny presentations and it all worked. So I just want to tell you thank you so much man writing that book.

Well thank you for taking it seriously. You know, a lot of people read business books and they don’t do anything with it. It sounds like you’ve got tremendous traction and execute it.

That book is, is was worth thousands. And I believe I bought the book early. This was like, I want to say, ah, pre Amazonian for me. I think I bought this like at Barnes and noble, so I probably, if I paid you, if I bought the book for $25, did you make about a dollar on that or how me? Cause I probably, oh yeah.

Well I hate to tell you that. Uh, yeah, that’s about right now. You don’t make a lot of money elsewhere. You know what we right to have an impact and you’re music to my ears because you’re the kind of person that we love to hear from. We want to have an impact. We don’t, you know, we don’t write for our egos are self aggrandizement. We really want to deep dive into these companies to say, you know, if we can move the needle sir, even just a few people, um, in, in the lifetime legacy, you know, that’s, that’s okay.

I want to ask you this because the way you write, the way you wrote that book in the way you’ve written your subsequent books, it’s very well researched. What is your process like for researching and preparing to write a book? What does that look like? Walk us through a few of the steps.

I just let my wife’s right him and, and I edit as you words and take credit.

Not, there we go.

Oh God.

The tip there it is. So

No, well I’m being facetious, but she plays such a critical role. I think that, you know, what differentiates our books maybe from others is, is we don’t write about anybody that we have not been in, lifted up the hood, press the flesh and really gone deep into the company and you know, been there. I just, um, this may be a little bit of an aside, but I just attended a lecture by the, probably the best journalists of our time right now, Bob Woodward. Okay. And he’s made a comment in his luxury said, you know, one of the keys to investigative journalism is you got to show up. He says, we do so much of our work now via the Internet, texts and, and whatnot. And he said, there is just no substitute for looking someone in the eye, seeing the emotion in their face, listen, the tone of their voice watching.

How other people react to them when you’re on site in person. And so part of our process has always been to show up. Um, and so we’re not going to write about people that we’ve just researched on Google or whatever. It’s we have to be there and known and we’ve turned down a lot of books, frankly over a 20 year period. We just, we just turned down one from a major company just because it just didn’t feel like it was going to be a fit. So part of it is show up, part of it is, um, you, you have to get some kind of sense that this company is living a message that you’re passionate about and want to portray out there because clay, I’ll tell ya, it’s pretty lonely when you’re sitting in your office looking at a blank computer screen that you got to turn into a chapter, right? And then into 14 march chapters. So you better be passionate about what you’re writing about or it’s just not going to come across. So that’s where we start. We start there and then we, and then that’s a, it’s really kind of an evolutionary process to say, okay, what are some of the majors themes that are unfolding from this deep background research and, and how do we start to craft that into a framework for a book?

Where do you write your book? You’re like, do you have a man cave, a cave for you in a cabin? Are you on a boat? Where do you like to write your books?

Jackie and I both right in our offices and on airplanes I would say are the two primary places. So, you know, it’s interesting, I get more work on airplanes probably than I do anywhere else cause I can just put the headphones on and you know, put my nose to the grindstone and you’re not interrupted by phone calls and emails and all those other things that happened to all of us during the course of a day. But, so we bought an airplanes and we, and we ride in our offices just because we have at our fingertips, I dunno, a library of probably 3000 books that we can look at, pull from being inspired by him.

Do you work out of your house or do you have like an office that’s separate from your home?

We have all, uh, not always. We tried working out of our house for a while and just said, I’m not sure why we are doing that. No one, you know, our work is outside, even our speaking work, we’re traveling to the client. So, um, long story short, we had, we found a home that had a couple offices already in it, beautiful part of San Diego and that’s what we did. We bought the home based and the officers.

That’s great. That’s awesome. I think that’s an insight. Listen to our show. Who want to know there was curious about where these great literary works come from. Now on page 14 of the book nuts, I have some things I highlighted there and uh, you wrote, or maybe Jackie wrote and you took the credit for somebody wrote, southwest airlines was the brainchild of Rollin King, a San Antonio Entrepreneur who owned a small computer air service and his banker John Parker Parker had complained to king that was inconvenient and expensive to travel between Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio and suggested starting an interstate airline. Uh, that right there. I did not know that when I read that, I’d love for you to share more about this story in, in, and why these two guys went from just having a conversation about we should start an airline to why they actually did it.

You know, Ron had the idea, uh, herb was a young, a very young at the time, brilliant attorney. He had grown up in New York but moved to Texas and they just said, this is a market that isn’t being served. And I think it’s both. It emanated from both of their egalitarian spirit. So it was like, you know, in those days, flying was an elite thing. It was for the people that were wealthy for the most part. And they said, well, what if we go left on red here and feel a part of the market that isn’t being filled? And what your listeners today may not understand is that, uh, herb Kelleher incorporate after they had the famous discussion where they drew a triangle on the Napkin, uh, which was their first route structure between San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. Uh, herb was 36 and incorporated southwest airlines.

And for the next five years, they 143 judicial and administrative proceedings all the way to the US Supreme Court because three major carriers Braniff, continental and Texas international colluded to keep this little upstart from ever getting off the ground. And the more they fought, the harder Kellerher dug in. And, uh, it was an affront to his spirit of his egalitarian spirit. It was an affront to democratizing the skies. And if they had just left him alone, I’m pretty sure that the southwest would have just bled money and gone away. But what they did was they, they confronted her Kelleher’s fierce competitiveness and sense of idealism. And then southwest airlines was born. What’s very interesting is those three carriers you’ve gone today, southwest is the most successful airline in the world.

I am glad they’re gone. I grew up in Oklahoma and I moved to Minnesota about the age of the age of 12 and I remember saving up all my money, all my money, Kevin Freiberg, when I was 13 years old to fly from Minnesota back to Tulsa to visit my friends and the tickets. Then we’re more than they are now. True Story. So I have a big appreciation for southwest because they have dramatically lowered the cost of traveling everywhere. I mean the, the, the, the, the prices of flying are so low and now, I mean it used to be something that only the elite could do and now it’s very, very affordable. Um, could you share with, from your perspective, looking at it and looking at all the data and spending years researching about the impact you think southwest has made on just the mobility of the average American and the lowering the costs of flying?

Yeah. It’s one of the things that totally impressed us early on with them. And they, you know, they, they have really taken that whole cost structure, low fares or low cost to create welfare and made it a cause, a noble, heroic cause. And they would call it the business of freedom. And I’ll tell you what that looks like. When we were doing the research for this, we had a 20 something year old rampage and probably didn’t have more than a high school education. I don’t remember exactly, but he said, Kevin Freiberg, we don’t have statistical significance on this show. He’s looking at the researcher, right? He says that we would have statistical significance, but I can tell you on average that about one out of every seven or eight of these little Disney pull on bags that we put on a belt loader and load into the belly of the airplane comes from a child in a broken home.

And if we don’t put these bags on the airplane on time and we don’t turn this airplane back in those days it was 10 minutes. Now it’s more like 25 if we don’t turn this airplane on time, that means that we’re going to have to put more airplanes in the system, which means we’re going to have to find the money to pay for those airplanes, which is going to come out of ticket, increases the cost and tickets and that little boy or little girl is not going to be able to fly between mom and dad whose geographically separated. And that’s an affront to the business of freedom. And I thought, my Gosh, if a 20 year old rampage and gets it at that level and they create a critical mass of employees who understand the movement and the cars behind the movement, that is their secret sauce. Very powerful concept.

The 10 minute turn, a one to get it on a deep, passionate level. That’s one thing that’s, I mean that’s, that’s a getting a 20 year old employee to be engaged. I mean, according to Gallup, they say what 67% of American employees are not engaged at work. You, you’ve seen the research. So to get somebody 20 years old to be engaged, that’s, that’s powerful. But then to pull it off. Can you explain how the 10 minute turn, I don’t think maybe some of the listeners are familiar with that terminology. Can you explain about the 10 minute turn and then why today ultimately is a 25 minute turn?

Yeah. As I said, all these judicial and administrative proceedings all the way to the u s supreme court bled the company dry. They had $143 in the bank. Wow. Keller, who was the lawyer at the time said to the board, let’s go one more round with these slbs. I’ll do the legal work pro bono because we’re not going to let him get by with this. Well, Lamar Muse, who was the CEO at the time, they were flying for Boeing seven 37 and Lamar figured out that if they could sell one of those for an $800,000 profit to keep the cashflow going for a few weeks, and so they went out and did that. They sold the airplane and now they had three seven 37 but then went out to the ground crews and they said, guess what? We’re going to maintain the same schedule with three airplanes that we did was for. And everybody said, how are we going to do that? I said, well, you’re going to have to figure out how to turn an airplane in 10 minutes. The average turn time for an airplane in that timeframe and that day was 45 minutes,

clean it, refuel it, the whole thing and maintenance. Check it in 10 minutes.

That’s right. Everybody, the person that takes care of the lab, the provisioning, the fuelers, the gate agents who, Borden deep plane passengers, uh, the guy that the people would drive, the tugs, all that happens, comes into the plane happen simultaneously. And so they said, yeah, I figured out how to turn an airplane in 10 minutes. And nobody said, how are you going to do that? And they said, we don’t know, but we know you’re going to figure it out. Cause if you don’t, we’re going to fire you. And this was in the good old boy, good airlines. They said, if you don’t figure it out, I’m gonna fire you and get somebody else in here that can figure it out. Well, where would you go if you wanted to figure out how to turn an airplane with all that activity in 10 minutes?

They went to, they drew inspiration from the pit crews at Indy because what happens with the pit crews in Indy is the driver comes in, he hits the mark, right? And who comes in the pneumatic wrench person, right? Pops the tires, the Gatorade person who sticks it in the window, the windshield wiper, the people who jack up the car, boom, boom, boom. It happens in 6.2 seconds and they’re out of that pit and on and the ratios are one in the pit, not on the track console. Southwest said, man, if we can station an airplane to hit its mark, the chalks, you know that hold the wheels on time and all these people can come in simultaneously. The lab, the gate that fuehler boom, boom, boom, we can turn an airplane in 10 minutes. And that was, that gave birth to the 10 minute turn, which was just a phenomenal innovation at that point in time in the industry,

which by the way, gave birth to the DJ connection. 15 minute turn. We had all of our disc jockeys up to 80 per weekend loading up their equipment every 15 minutes. I couldn’t get down to 10 because hey, these guys were just flying airplanes. I’m loading out djs. Right. And it’s a much more complicated. I seriously, I got down to a [inaudible]

man. That’s awesome.

No, I did, I implemented everything in the book. Everything. Yeah. The uh, the, the competition for the funniest announcements. We had a competition for the best, uh, the bride, the bride who reviewed our Dj has been the funniest guy. I mean, we took the whole, I mean, this was like this book. I have so many notes. Some day when you come to Tulsa on your next to a tourist visit to see our sod farms. I will show you, you did the copy of your book that I have desecrated it or, or uh, edited it or taking so many notes in that book that really, it’s kind of unethical what I’ve done to your book, but it helped me so much. It was awesome.

Send you a gold medal. I’ve never heard anybody take it to a task like that.

Oh, you’re going to, you’re going to love this. At some point. You got to come and tell us. I will show it to you. It is, it is the best. The entire company DJ that I no longer own. It’s an all these different cities. Probably 75% of it was stolen from that book. Now check this out. Um, in the, in your book you talked about how the company spend half of their budget, half of their $700,000 budget in the first month, and so they needed to create word of mouth that would really take off. So what I did was after the bride’s wedding, it was highly illegal, by the way, Kevin, but I would send to the prides a coffee of all of the songs I played at their wedding on a CD with a outback gift certificate that I’ve worked out via trade out.

And I took a photo from the photographer and I put it on the CD. So after your wedding you get back and you’ve got a $40 gift certificate in a CD of all your music and brides just would refer me to everybody and it was awesome because my wife and I had three. We’re going to target Applebee’s and direct TV. I worked at Applebee’s target and direct TV. Vanessa is working at a office depot in Oral Roberts University and we turned off the air conditioning to afford advertisement. So I read this. I was like, how’s he going to do it? How’s he going to do it? Can you explain how southwest did this? How did they, what kind of outrageous stuff did they do to get people talking?

Well, one of the big things they did was they had $19 fare between these three cities. The major carriers, brand of continental Texas international all came in and said, well, we’re going to do it for 15 thinking that they could create a price war and push them right out of the southwest knew that they had a lot of business travelers flying that we’re on an expense account. Right? Right. And so they said, no, by the ticket from us for $19 but we’ll give you a fifth of Whiskey, provide career, whatever your libation of choice is free with your ticket. Well, all these guys are on expense accounts, right? So they’re just going to expense the $19 to their expense budget and go home with the bottle of whiskey and for I think a 45 days or there abouts, southwest airlines was the largest record distributor in the state of Texas. But like you, it created that, you know, if we were on, if they had the internet in those days and social media, it would have gone viral like in a nanosecond. And it went viral anyway because everybody got excited about it and said, that is such a food.

Talk to me about the, the outfits worn by the early flight attendants because those are also quite a ah, those third quite a controversy.

Well, they would today, this would just never fly. It would be considered sexist and they probably be eaten alive for it. But in those days they had hot pants, they had sight of tenants that wore hot pants and uh, they hired pretty attractive people. Um, and you know, as, as we talked about hiring for attitude, uh, people with a personality, big personality. And so I think people got on the airplanes and they said, man, these guys are different. You know, most of these other airlines is stuffy and area. They’re sterile and it’s no fun and it’s all business. And these guys are like fun and wearing hot pants, wearing casual wear. And they just, you know, when you get on an airplane like that, it relaxes the whole environment for you and people who travel a lot, right? I mean, we’re on airplanes every week. Uh, we get work done, but let me tell you, it’s a stuffy environment. I’m most airlines and if you can get on and somebody can say, we were to take the edge off 40, man, we want to, we want you to have fun on this flight. Well who are you going to fly? You know the stuff he wanted the, the, the airline that sings French since their safety announcements. And so I think that was all born in those early when they, uh, allowed sidechain sweater. Okay.

Now in your book, I mean that, that book, that book, if you’re out there, thrive nation and you do not invest the $25 to buy a copy of this on Andrew buy another one right now. Is that as a thank you gift here by another when we’re buying and Andrew’s going to buy another one right now as we’re doing this show android, are you, are you buying the book there? Are you getting right now Andrea in the book? Okay. Miguel, if you’re out there listening today and you buy this book and You implement even one 50th of what does it, what does in this book, I promise you it can dramatically enhance your book. And you could’ve sat there and said, Kevin Freiberg, you know I wrote that book. Things are good. I’m just going to sit back in a hammock and just, but no, you moved on and you guys have written some unbelievable books. I would like for you to kind of steer the conversation for a moment of the, of the books that you’ve been writing recently. Can you kind of walk us through the books you’ve written since then? And uh, kind of most of our listeners are entrepreneurial. They own a business. I’d say the average listener owns a company. What are some of the books you’ve written that you would recommend our listeners check out and why?

Thank you for asking. I will tell you, uh, because they were, it was such a, they tell their own story so well that we just, you know, we documented it, but, uh, but what it did for us is it created a paradigm, if you will, or a, I think a research agenda that said, we want to go after companies that are doing things in the marketplace that everybody else says can’t be done. So really cool renegade companies that are winning when everybody else thinks there’s no way you can do that. So that’s the theme that rolls through all of our eight books. We’ve written a book called God’s that highlights a whole lot of companies similar to southwest airlines. Uh, one of which is GSD and m southwest ad agency who is every bit as creative and renegade like is southwest. Uh, that’s a collage of a number of companies.

Um, he rolls forward. We wrote a book called Man Ovation about a company in India that, uh, built a car for us. $2,500, and the cause of the car was, uh, if you travel in India and many of the third world countries, you’ll find that families are four or five and six ride the same motorcycle on the same motor scooter and 100,000 people die every year on two wheelers, uh, in India alone and written Tido, one of the great industrialists. Um, one of the great entrepreneurs of India said, what if we could build a safe, affordable car for just slightly more than the cost of that motorcycle? And no one thought they could do it. No one thought. Everybody said it will be an apology card. It’ll be a piece of crap. You’ll never get it done. All of the US and global auto CEOs kind of laughed at this project.

And long story short, they develop the Tata Nano. It’s a five seater. Jackie and I’ve driven it on their test track and India, uh, and it’s sold initially for 2100 US dollars got 55 miles to the gallon and was really an incredible story. Um, the current has since not done very well. So I want to be honest with your listeners and it has not done well for a variety of reasons that we probably don’t have time to unpack right now, but it was still an engineering in incredible engineering feat. Um, and so nano novation talks about that and then a racing forward. I’ll just give you one. Others are most recent book, uh, has been with our dear friend Bruce Bocce who won three world championships managing the San Francisco giants. And he is as herb like, uh, as any leader we have met, uh, cares about his players, doesn’t see them as just tradable commodities and took a roster that on paper really could not compete with some of the other, uh, Major League baseball teams like the Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees and won three world championships in five years. And it really is not a book about baseball as much as it is a book about business and team chemistry and how do you get a team to gel because he’s a master at it. So that’s a little bit about what we’ve been up to over the last 20 years.

No. There’s another book that you wrote. I have even more ideas out of this and this book, this book. I think you can buy this book, Andrew again on Amazon. We could buy this book for like, you know, $20 right now. And I’m not going to go as far as to say that, hey, if you’re listening today and you’re not a knucklehead, you should buy this book. But I am going to say, I would strongly suggest that you go without three Starbucks beverages and purchase this next book cause cause this book cause let’s cause Tom Shoes. Lulu Lemon, virgin, southwest airlines, this book. Can you explain to listeners what this book is all about because it, it does a deep dive case study on so many great companies. But what’s this book about? At its core,

the major company, again, we went deep and broad, uh, was a client group. They are the fastest, most successful, uh, growing insurance company in the nation today. And you think insurance man, is there anything more boring than insurance? Insurance is kind of like a root canal. It’s necessary. You need it, but nobody wants it. Right? These guys have just done an incredible, uh, an incredible thing. But the premise of the book, and I think this is true for all of the entrepreneurs that are listening to your show and follow you. If we can, every business we think can be driven by a cause, if you dig deep enough to find it, you know, in southwest case, who was the business of afraid and uh, if you can find that cause and get people caught up in it, what follows is a movement. And here’s the thing about movements.

People opt in to movements. They don’t have to be hornswoggled. They don’t have to be hard tied. You don’t have to put them in a headlock and get them to quote unquote buy in. They’re already in because their personal values. So identify with the values that are driving the cars and ultimately creating a movement. So the question we ask in that book is, what if you stop talking about your company as a business and a corporation? What if you could talk about it is a full blown noble, heroic cause that drew people in opted people into a movement. Think of the competitive advantage of that you, you quoted earlier, the Gallup statistics, 75% of the workforce is either disengaged or actively disengaged, which means they’re sabotaging what’s going on in the business. Yup. So our view, Jackie’s in mind is that, you know, over all these years we really haven’t cracked the code on engagement because the engagement statistics have not really changed in 20 years since Gallup started doing that survey.

And I’m not here to tell you that we think we have the silver bullet, but we think it is a silver bullet. And that is when you lay your head on a pillow at the end of the day, don’t you want to know that you moved to needle? Don’t you want to know that you made a contribution to your business? Don’t you want to know that you did something in your work then made the world better? And that might sound like Pollyanna and idealism and apple pie to your listeners. But if you really talk to people, that’s what they want and work they want. Meaning they want significance. They want to lay their head on the pillow and now they moved the needle. So I answered to that is in the, in the book cause is figure out what your cause is fine. The cars that’s worth devoting all the resources of your company too. And people will opt into a movement and you can kick ass and take names.

You know, at, at the elephant in the room, our men’s grooming lounge, it’s a, it’s like a country club meets men’s hair. Uh, every time that we cut someone’s hair for the first time, it’s a membership model. So the first time you come in the hair cut, it’s paraffin, hand dip, hot towel treatment. People love it. We have four locations. We’re very to open up our fifth one. This is seven years into the business, but your first haircut is a dollar. And we donate that dollar to a company culture and organization called compassion international that uh, international countries and provides them. Um, it’s, it’s a wonderful organization. It’s education and food and nourishment and clothing. And then one of the other businesses that, that we’re involved in from a consultant level as a company called oxy fresh and to Oxi fresh is the world’s greenest carpet cleaner.

But to what John, the founder of Oxi fresh decided to do, we discussed it quite a bit, was to every time that you schedule online, uh, as opposed to calling in, they make a donation to the organization that’s represented by Matt Damon that drills wells in third world countries. And as a consultancy, I encourage every single business owner I work with, I say find a give back, find a cause that matters more than just profits. Because at the end of the day, would you said is 100% correct out there. And I think a lot of our listeners out there are on the fence. They’re going, okay, do I pick up cause do I buy bocce ball, do I buy nuts? I mean I might say you should buy all of them and never go to Starbucks for the next month. But somebody says, I’m on a budget and I still do my caffeine. I would say get instant coffee. Get the off brand. It’s okay. But someone says, no, seriously, I’m down to my last $25 a, I’d say turn off the cable. But if they were down, they, if they did choose one book to buy one, but one of your books to purchase to checkout, what, what in your mind is the book that all the listeners should check out?

Thanks for asking the tough questions. All of these. But I think I’d have to, I’d have to land where you did the book. That’s probably has meant the most to us in terms of our philosophy and what we believe because we think we’re all wired for it. We think we were created in the image of a creator who’s adventurous and a entrepreneurial and innovative and we’re wired for significance. We’re wired for meaning. And if you can help people find that cause and build that movement, then you are doing something great. Not only for your business and for your employees, but Greg for, um, you know, the world in which you operate. So I would land on cause

final two questions I have here for you. You are a guy that comes across as very well read as you’re, uh, businesses as your books have done well and you’re speaking has done well and your businesses have taken off. Um, what do you, how do you organize, how do you stay on top of it? How do you organize the first four hours of a typical day and what time do you wake up?

We’re usually up by five 30. I would say. I’ve got a son that commutes 40 minutes to school. We split our time between San Diego and Sundance and Sundance during the school year starts and goes to high school 40 minutes away. So we’re easily up getting him out the door. Um, my day begins with reading and um, I just, uh, it’s just where I am. I just believe that we’ve been given gifts and talents and, uh, so I start my day by just kind of consecrating to God and saying, I’d like to just get in sync with you chapter and what you’re doing, where you’re going. And, uh, helped me figure out what that is. So that’s my first hour or 90 minutes of the day. And then usually we’re either on an airplane going somewhere or we’re hunkered down trying to work on the next project. We, uh, we write a column for Forbes now and so that’s a big deal for us. And so I would just tell you that most of our day are spent writing. And, uh, I, I’m married to a workout, a holic and so, uh, somewhere in that day I find a good workout because if I don’t, I’ll never keep up with her.

Yeah. Your, your wife stay super fit. Unbelievable. To see the Diet that consists of just Kale and then Kale.

Well, you know, we, uh, the Sundance Institute did a film last year in January and they had the world’s strongest man. The top cyclist, a 39 year old cycle is two is kicking the butts of every 1920 something. Couple football players, all these world class athletes. And the thing they all had in common was they had gone from a carnivore diet to vegetarian to Vegan and my wife became a Vegan and I’d say it’s been a pain in the butt to go to a restaurant with them because a, not all restaurants are vegan friendly. She does eat pretty healthy. Now I will tell you that that has not bled over into my guy. I’m still a pretty,

okay. They’re not Vegan at this point.

No, I’m not. I’m not. And she’s not evangelistic about it. She just, it works for, it works for her, but we are people who take care of ourselves because, uh, you know, we’d like to, we’d like to be productive for as long as possible. I have no interest in retiring. I would like to, uh, you know, if I could die on a stage somewhere and partying some, some pieces of wisdom to people and just pick it straight into the wall and I’d be good. Uh, I think we’re here to be used and use our gifts and talents. So that’s what I want to do. But to do that, you kind of gotta stay healthy, right? Or try to at least.

Now, my final question for you, I’m, I’m very curious about is I, we interviewed, I mean we’ve interviewed the founder of Ritz Carlton and Lee Cockerell who managed Walt Disney world for years and then Wolfgang Puck, just so many big names and uh, all of you have these little idiosyncrasies that you do, the superpowers, you know, kind of things that you do that no one else does it or kind of a little bit interesting. You know, like a, I wear the same clothes everyday, the same outfit every single day. You don’t, people go, why do you do that? Can I ask you, do you have like an idiosyncrasy that you could share or an interesting belief that you have or maybe something you don’t do that everybody else does?

Uh, you know, I learned a long time ago that when you travel as much as we do and you’re in front of as many people as we are, you were, you, you can just simplify things. And so, um, I pretty, I have about, uh, I have a signature shirt I wear to go speak and, and I’ve got about four different, five different versions of that, but that is my attire and don’t take it up a lot because it simplifies my life and I don’t have you. And you’re thinking about trying to bring a message to people and you want to touch their hearts and getting their heads. I just don’t have time to be thinking about all of them is my attire ride and my dressed accordingly. So I just kind of picked up a signature, a tire and that’s what I do. Well, I’m kind of boring in that respect.


Yeah. Well I’m not sure with all the great people you’ve had on this, uh, on this show, I feel pretty honored that we got thrown in the mix. I don’t feel worthy, but I feel honored. So thank you for all the people that we’d been interviewed by and get get on the radio and podcast with. Man, you’re a, you’re a Shaker and mover and I love that about what you’re doing.


your listeners are fortunate to have you.

Well thank you so much my friend. Hope you have a great day.

Thanks for having me. Great talking.

If you are out there today, you learned a few things during today’s show, I would encourage you to put them into practice as soon as possible. Take these ideas, catch these ideas, write them down and figure out how you can implement them in your company. A one big idea. Does the simplification of everything. You know at southwest airlines they only fly and maintain and service seven 37 Boeing jets. Think about that. They only work with one kind of aircraft and if you read the book not to explains to you in that book with great detail why that’s a competitive advantage for them. They’ve also simplified their business model by getting rid of assigned seats so they no longer have to mess with that. It allows them to be more efficient. They’ve also differentiated themselves in the marketplace by not charging you to load your bags.

Uh, they have merit based pay in place that there’s so many things at southwest airlines does. Right? And I would encourage everybody out there to have a copy of the book nuts or to at least implement the following two action items. Simplify, simplify and simplify. Ask Yourself, how can you simplify your business model? Because simplicity scales and complexity fails. And to introduce merit based pay, merit based pay into your company and some capacity. Don’t pay people based upon what they say they’re going to do. Pay People based upon their actual performance. And you will find that your company will grow. And now, if any further, I do three, two, oh,

are you serious about growing your business? Do you want to save yourself a bunch of time, money, and headaches? Well, with this situation requires, is for you to take some massive action. It’s time for you to sign up for the world’s most affordable and effective education for entrepreneurs today at thrive time, Again, that’s thrive time, school dot. Sign up today at [inaudible] dot com how dare you.


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