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Friday, November 22, 2019

Business Education

This CEO Lost His Elite Platinum Status With American Airlines, And Couldn’t Be Happier

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Are you tired of never being home? Here’s how one CEO changed the way he did business.

When I first met Daniel he was at a crossroads in his business. By many accounts he was successful. He had a consulting firm in North Carolina and had recently acquired two firms in California. When he reached out to me for business coaching, he was struggling to put the pieces together. He was working long hours, traveling to and from California every other week and barely seeing his wife and five children. On our first call together the words “complete chaos” were mentioned more than once over the course of our hour-long session.

After talking with Daniel, we were able to identify three key areas that he needed to work on to turn his business around and find a healthy work-life balance.

Here are the things we focused on:

  1. Culture

    Company culture is a huge part of the success or failure of a business. There will be times where the staff finds themselves in an ambiguous situation and are unsure of how to proceed.

    This is where your company culture comes in. Your company culture is the hidden hand that shapes your team’s behavior so that they effectively handle those situations that by their very nature are ambiguous or nuanced. Your culture is the sum total of your values, beliefs, traditions, and accepted standards of behavior. It’s the way your company views, prioritizes, and behaves to get things done.

    Unfortunately for Daniel, company culture can be especially tricky after an acquisition. We spent a great deal of our time together reshaping the culture through behavior modifications and modeling. Want your employees to be on time for company meetings? Make sure that you are there early, and don’t be afraid to call out those who show up tardy.

  1. Hiring The Right Team Members

    The second thing that we worked on was hiring the right team members. It became very apparent early on in the process that some of the team members in California were not a good fit culturally, and were going to need to be let go. We worked on finding team members that were not only competent in their respected positions but had the skills needed to build a solid team.

    We had Daniel ask the following about each hire:

  • What deliverables will this person need to produce?
  • What skillsets must he or she have?
  • What experience set must they have to be successful in this role?
  • What educational requirements (if any)?
  • What character and personality traits or temperament will they need to be a strong, long term fit?
  1. Systems and Controls

    Once Daniel had established a healthy company culture and had a solid team in all three locations, we then focused on creating systems and controls for the business. By looking at the day-to-day operations at the various branches and creating step by step instructions on how to do each function, it allowed Daniel to not only onboard new employees quicker but gave him the freedom to stay home more and stop micromanaging the California offices.

Three Years Later 

At our coaching session this month, Daniel shared a milestone with me. He had officially lost his elite platinum status with American Airlines. He was no longer traveling to California every week, and was able to enjoy his family more. After 3 years, he can say with confidence that he has a strong leadership team and good solid systems and controls in place. And his revenue and margins speak for themselves.


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David Finkel
David Finkel is the author of 12 business books, including his newest release The Freedom Formula. He is the co-author of Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back (written with Priceline.com co-founder Jeff Hoffman), and a respected business thinker. Finkel's weekly business owner e-letter is read by 100,000 business owners around the world each week. Finkel is the CEO of Maui Mastermind, a business coaching company. Over the past 20 years, Finkel and the other Maui coaches have personally scaled and sold more than $2 billion worth of businesses. David Finkel is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.
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