30 Intelligent Herb Kelleher Quotes

30 Intelligent Herb Kelleher Quotes

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30 Herb Kelleher Quotes
Image Credit | famousentrepreneurs

Herb Kelleher is the co-founder, and former CEO of ‘Southwest Airlines’. In 2010, Herb Kelleher was made chairman of the ‘Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ which expired 2013.

Here are 30 Inspiring Herb Kelleher Quotes:

1. “Leading an organization is as much about soul as it is about systems. Effective leadership finds its source in understanding.” – Herb Kelleher

2. “The Wright Amendment is a pain in the ass, but not every pain in the ass is a constitutional infringement.” – Herb Kelleher

3. “Treat your employees like customers.” – Herb Kelleher

4. “It takes nerves of steel to stay neurotic.” – Herb Kelleher

5. “Think small and act small, and we’ll get bigger. Think big and act big, and we’ll get smaller.” – Herb Kelleher

6. “We have a strategic plan. It’s called ‘doing things’.” – Herb Kelleher

7. “I’ve always been able to make erroneous decisions very quickly.” – Herb Kelleher

8. “A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear.” – Herb Kelleher

9. “You must be very patient, very persistent. The world isn’t going to shower gold coins on you just because you have a good idea. You’re going to have to work like crazy to bring that idea to the attention of people. They’re not going to buy it unless they know about it.” – Herb Kelleher

10th Herb Kelleher Quote – “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

11. “You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.” – Herb Kelleher

12. “If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it. And the more that people will devote themselves to your cause on a voluntary basis, a willing basis, the fewer hierarchies and control mechanisms you need.” – Herb Kelleher

13. “If you’re crazy enough to do what you love for a living, then you’re bound to create a life that matters.” – Herb Kelleher

14. “The core of our success. That’s the most difficult thing for a competitor to imitate. They can buy all the physical things. The things you can’t buy are dedication, devotion, loyalty—the feeling that you are participating in a crusade.” – Herb Kelleher

15. “I’ve found that many of the greatest ideas surface in bars because that’s where many people cultivate inspiration.” – Herb Kelleher


Herb Kelleher

16. “You have to treat your employees like customers.” – Herb Kelleher

17. “If the employees come first, then they’re happy. A motivated employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders. It’s not one of the enduring green mysteries of all time, it is just the way it works.” – Herb Kelleher

18. “Power should be reserved for weightlifting and boats, and leadership really involves responsibility.” – Herb Kelleher

19. “If the Wright brother were alive today Wilbur would have to fire Orville to reduce costs.” – Herb Kelleher

20th Herb Kelleher Quote – “I learned it by doing it, and I was scared to death.” – Herb Kelleher

21. “Succession planning has been a major priority at Southwest for quite some time. We think we have come up with a winning combination of talent for our company reorganization.” – Herb Kelleher

22. “When someone comes to me with a cost saving idea, I don’t immediately jump up and say yes. I ask: what’s the effect on the customer?” – Herb Kelleher

23. “The essential difference in service is not machines or ‘things.’ The essential difference is minds, hearts, spirits, and souls.” – Herb Kelleher

24. “I think my greatest moment in business was when the first Southwest airplane arrived after four years of litigation and I walked up to it and I kissed that baby on the lips and I cried.” – Herb Kelleher

25. “You can’t really be disciplined in what you do unless you are humble and open-minded. Humility breeds open-mindedness—and really, what we try to do is establish a clear and simple set of values that we understand. That simplifies things; that expedites things. It enables the extreme discipline I mentioned in describing our strategy. When an issue comes up, we don’t say we’re going to study it for two and a half years. We just say, ‘Southwest Airlines doesn’t do that. Maybe somebody else does, but we don’t.’ It greatly facilitates the operation of the company.” – Herb Kelleher

26. “The people of Southwest have always been my pride, my joy and my love. Their indomitable dedication and esprit de corps have taken Southwest from a three-airplane dream to a 500-airplane reality.” – Herb Kelleher

27. “Your people come first, and if you treat them right, they’ll treat the customers right.” – Herb Kelleher

28. “If employees aren’t satisfied, they won’t promote the product we need.” – Herb Kelleher

29. “It’s all hands on deck; the ship is being shelled.” – Herb Kelleher

30. “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.” – Herb Kelleher

What’s your favorite Herb Kelleher Quote? Share your favorite quote in the comment section below.

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  1. “We take our competition very seriously, but not ourselves.” ~Herb Kelleher

    “Tim McClure is a true idiot savant. He’s still working on the savant part, but he’s got the idiot part down pat!” ~Herb Kelleher

  2. I worked reservations for SWA in the late 90’s and on a trip to headquarters I turned a corner and ran right smack into Herb. I was surprised it was him (I’d never met him in person yet) and embarrassed and so I quickly said “I’m sorry Mr Kelleher!” And he said “What’s this ‘Mr Kelleher’ shit, my name is Herb!”. He was so cool and approachable.

  3. While in Flight Attendant training in March of 1995, we had the honor of both Herb and Colleen Barrett coming to visit and speak to our training class.

    Colleen was explaining to the class that, as Southwest employees, we had the opportunity and power to make things right with the customer on the spot if we felt we could make a difference. She reiterated that Southwest empowered its employees and the company would stand behind us and support our decisions… That is why they hired and trained us the way they did.

    But, Colleen also reiterated that the customer wasn’t always right and as representatives of the company, that meant that customers didn’t deserve to treat us badly if they were upset.

    Herb, sitting next to Colleen and quiet up until this point, loudly announced to the group “Yeah, you don’t have to take any of their bullshit.”

    Our entire class sat in stunned silence for a moment and then burst out laughing. We were enamored with our fearless leader and would do anything for him. Because we knew, that he would do anything for us.

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