Howard Putnam VIBE Keynote: Change the Way the Game is Played

2016

Howard Putnam delivered an inspiring keynote speech at the 2016 VIBE Conference. The former Southwest Airlines CEO explained how he bucked tradition, flipped his industry’s standard operating model on its head, and developed a clear, concise vision to turn the airline around. Howard made it clear that this approach to business can work to great success for the hospitality industry as well.

“Now, develop a corporate culture that supports your vision and business,” suggests Howard. “The mantra over the door was, ‘Hire attitudes and teach them skills.’ That is still the mantra today for all employees [Southwest Airlines hires] and they have over 48,000 today.”

When facing slumping sales or other corporate crises, it’s imperative that leadership have a clear path to weather any storm. Once realized, corporate cultures can be put in place and nurtured so that employees can get behind leadership’s vision and support the business. Howard, for instance, positioned and organized Southwest for growth and profitability by implementing a very flat management structure with decision making and idea development a part of everyone’s job scope and responsibility. Individuals and teams were rewarded for taking risks, designing unorthodox processes and improvements in productivity, customer service, cost containment, safety and profitability.

In order to realize your business’ vision and develop a culture of support around it, Howard recommends the following steps:

  1. Put you vision on a piece of paper, taking care to ensure it’s clean and simple.
  2. Remain focused on your vision and never deviate from it.
  3. Make sure you inundate your organization with your vision. Put simply, when you’re sick of your advertising, it’s just starting to reach the public.
  4. Develop a team player attitude that encourages great attitudes and open communication.
  5. Don’t let your ego or the egos of employees get in the way.
  6. Remember that perception will become reality.
  7. Take care to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life to avoid crashing and burning.

It’s not difficult to understand Howard’s success when listening to his story. He’s engaging, he’s funny, and it’s clear that he truly believes that devotion to achieving specific goals can change a brand for the better. Through the development of a defined vision, open communication with your team, and clear objectives, you can also change your brand to great success.

“Understand what business you are really in,” said Howard. “We figured out we were not an airline. We were in mass transportation, a totally different business.”

We want to remind 2016 VIBE Conference attendees that they can receive a complimentary pass to the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show by contacting Rachael Ricci at rricci@questex.com. VIBE readers receive a discount of $30 on any 2016 Nightclub & Bar Show pass by entering the code SAVE30VIBE when registering online.