"I've been places and done things and plan to do much more"
Born in Peru / Lived in North Africa
After World War II, my father and some of his war buddies found work as “doodlebuggers”, looking for oil in South America. As luck would have it, he ended up in Lima Peru, where he met a young lady who would become his wife of 42 years. I was the second born of four children, two boys and two girls. Five years later, my family and I were shipped off to North Africa where I spent eleven years outrunning ghiblis and learning the fine art of riding camels. Many of my favorite thoughts from those times are centered around the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea and all that it encompassed.
My pen pal, Walt Disney
I was seven years old and living in Tripoli, Libya in North Africa. One of the few modern conveniences we had was an old television that would broadcast only one channel each night at 7 o’clock. My favorite show was the “Wonderful World of Disney”. I couldn’t wait for Walt Disney to come and talk to me, as he explained the story I was about to see, through the magic of that old TV. He truly was my hero and I needed to let him know how much I loved him and all his friends. So I sat down and wrote this letter… “Dear Mr. Disney. My name is Lorraine. I am seven years old and live in Tripoli, Libya. That’s in the desert of North Africa. I love watching your show, especially when you take me on all the adventures with your friends. My favorite is Jiminy Cricket. He is fun and I would love to get a picture of him to put on my wall. Living in the desert, we only have scorpions, and I can’t play with them. Thank you. Your friend, Lorraine." That one letter began a long distance relationship between a little girl in the desert and my wonderful friend, Walt Disney.
Interviewed Three US Presidents & Willie Nelson
President George H. W. Bush
It’s not every day one gets to sit and talk with the President of the United States. I had this opportunity with three….Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. It began the day I received an unexpected call from the White House, asking me to attend a meeting with the President and his staff.
I vividly recall the smile on my face as I hailed a cab at the DC airport and asked the driver to “please take me to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave”…..I wasn’t going as a tourist; I was about to become a guest of the President. I was not alone, Ann Richards, Governor of the Great State of Texas, would be with me to discuss concerns about NAFTA. President Bush could not have been more gracious and I vividly remember how beautiful the rose garden looked on that spring day.
The second meeting with President Bush came about when I was invited to his Houston office to celebrate his retirement. He wanted to spend time with me and my coworkers to express his gratitude for the hospitality that Southwest Airlines had shown him and his team upon their return to Houston.
President Bill Clinton
President Clinton attended a Gala in Houston to thank all those who had supported his reelection. Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest Airlines had a seat at the Presidents’ table. Unfortunately, Herb could not attend and asked me to represent Southwest and found myself surrounded by dignitaries, heads of state and industry leaders. They were telling stories only a President and CEOs could tell when I was introduced as Herb's ‘stand in’. Immediately the stories turned to their experiences with Southwest. I knew the airline was doing something right when the President and a host of dignitaries were so genuine with their compliments.
President Jimmy Carter
I spent a day with former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn in the garden of their local church in Plains, Georgia. He had written a new book and I wanted to interview the President about his latest work and discuss his recent involvement with Habitat for Humanity. He and Rosalynn were actively getting involved with Habitat and explained how his presence would bring attention to a very serious problem in America. "Everyone needs a decent place to live," he said, "and we would like to help make that happen.” He personally invigorated my sense of compassion, so when I returned to work, I got my team involved with Habitat. I consider this meeting fortuitous because it sparked my interest in charitable giving which has now become a big part of my life. My latest book, "Cooking for a Cause", depicts how a small group of warrior-spirited volunteers have made a $20,000,000 difference in their community, one meal at a time.
Why would I include Willie Nelson in the same sentence with three US Presidents? Because he is a highly celebrated personality, and whether you approve of his lifestyle or not, you must agree he lives life to its fullest. I was fortunate to spend time with him, if only for the day, inviting my closest friends to ‘listen in’ as he told stories of the road he’s traveled, and people he’s known. He left us with the feeling we had just spent time with a genuine human being. Despite his busy schedule, he took time to sign autographs and take pictures. I cannot think of time better spent.
Driving Boats & Living Aboard
I learned to drive a boat when my boys and I decided to fish and water ski. I thought it couldn’t be that difficult. If I could drive a car, I could definitely drive a boat! That's when I realized boats don’t have brakes and steering them is like driving on ice. I knew I had some learning to do, and soon I got the hang of it, but learned the hard way there are things under the water than can stop the boat on a dime. A sand bar, invisible to the naked eye and lurking under two feet of water, brought our little boat to a sudden stop, throwing my unsuspecting mother-in-law off into the water. Just one of many unexpected experiences living on the water.
But I am not one to let a sandbar stand in my way of having an adventure. I bought a 32’ Island Gypsy trawler in Oriental, North Carolina, traveled down the east coast of America, around the Florida peninsula and up the west coast to Kemah, Texas. I spent 90 of the best days of my life, on the water with good friends, exploring different ports of call and just relaxing and having fun. That experience settled it for me. I sold all my earth bound possessions, along with my 32’ Island Gypsy, then bought a 52’ cabin cruiser. I now live on the boat in a Texas marina, with views and people that are just marvelous. Even better, if I become restless, I just unhook my lines and move the boat to another slip, or marina, or city, or country. What a Life.
First Female Owner of an American jet charter company
As a young woman, fresh out of college, I chose an entry level job as a secretary in a private aviation business. Within six years, I positioned myself to start my own aviation company and became the first female in America to own and operate a private jet charter company. Looking back, I realized that a large part of my success came from the support I received from a mentor who saw my potential and encouraged me to reach for the stars.
Always looking to improve myself, I attended a meeting with a man who would head up the “best place to work” in America….Herb Kelleher, President and CEO of Southwest Airlines. After listening to Herb speak, I knew this man could have a great influence in my life as my new mentor. I have always been one to listen to my gut and move on instinct, so I sold my charter business to my sister and began my 15 year tutelage at SWA. What I learned from this man could fill a book….and it did.
"Lessons in Loyalty" How Southwest Airlines Does it.
Developing Leaders (what others have written about Lorraine)
These same ideals are still in use by Southwest Airlines to produce the most productive and successful business cultures in America. In addition, her second book and training program, patterned on a model of Disruptive Training, are now available for use by companies who desire cutting edge training outside of the norm. In this book, “Beyond the Executive Comfort Zone”, Lorraine and CEO Frank Granara embark on a team building journey like never before. This adventurous approach makes it a great primer for any firm wanting to build a strategic thinking, superior decision making team.
Her time at Southwest
During her 15 years at Southwest Airlines, Lorraine moved up through the ranks, holding key positions that gave her the insight to uncover the secret for creating a Happy Workplace. It's ‘just one thing' as Curly from City Slickers would have you believe. When you Put People First, the culmination of many small efforts result in a loyal culture. This is what happens when leaders truly care about their employees, and these are the ‘Lessons in Loyalty’ that Lorraine writes about in her book.
Lorraine's first five years at Southwest was dedicated to their marketing department. Her time was spent engaging Southwest employees in local community activities in the surrounding Houston Texas, Birmingham Alabama and Nashville Tennessee areas. Her teams, who serviced these areas, were asked to promoted Southwest Airlines as the airline of choice.
She advanced into a leadership position at Southwest’s ‘University for People’. A vanguard program that trains entry level employees up through the executive branch. The University for People is considered the 'backbone' of SWA continued success. Putting People First is the mantra taught throughout all levels at Southwest Airlines.
NOTE: Two innovative programs stand out as 'game changers' at Southwest:
* Mind the Gap (MTG) This program dealt with a noticeable gap in the co-operation between departments and leadership had great concern about the possible erosion of their culture. The lack of communication and understanding between departments was creating an "us versus them" mentality. Mind the Gap program, instituted at the university, closed the gap with a unique 'walk a mile in their shoes' approach. The (MGT) classroom training was key in creating a bridge of understanding between each department and showed how they depend on each other to functioned efficiently as one.
* Quest and Request (Q&R) Leadership Training 101…Teaching front line supervisors the leadership skills they would need to advance their individual departments into even greater efficiency was a first for SWA. "Tool Time" for the mechanics and "Quest" for ground operations were just two of the programs designed to help department supervisors lead their employees. The results of this training strategy has helped each department be the best they can be.
Note: Her last five years at Southwest Airlines, Lorraine was Director of Employment, crafting strategies and leading the effort to find and hire Southwest's renowned "warrior spirits".
Using Those Skills / Developing My 'Navigational Beacons'
I am now devoting all my resources to promote my map chart of guiding beacons so every organization can acquire detailed directions on how to establish and maintain a Happy Workplace. As a nation, we spend one third of our life at work. My goal is to help our business and community leaders provide the kind of workplace people need to feel safe, appreciated and productive. It’s a big job, and I'm glad I can help.
A Happy Workplace / All about Customer Service
A Happy Workplace is the soul of great customer service. It’s the ‘secret sauce’ you’ll need to train and retain your employees. Never forget… loyal employees are the end result of a Happy Workplace. Great customer service happens when loyal employees go the extra mile. Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest Airline said it best…"We are in the customer service business - We just happen to fly airplanes.”
That statement says it all. I have taken these life lessons and put them into four 'Navigational Beacons', to guide you and your company on a path to creating a Happy Workplace. Everything starts at the top. As leaders, use this proven formula and witness a change in the attitude of your people as you create an atmosphere of love and trust. It is the aspiring ‘high standard’ for corporate culture in America.
Publishers Final Thoughts:
An accomplished executive, author and public speaker, Lorraine is the President of Lessons in Loyalty. In addition to her customized work with individual companies, she delivers keynote speeches to organizations based on the principles outlined in her book 'Lessons In Loyalty', and utilized by Southwest Airlines to create one of the most productive and successful cultures. This message is quickly gaining momentum in the business community as a basis for companies who want to know how Southwest Airlines and other companies do it. In addition, her book has now been published in four countries.
In her second book, 'Beyond the Executive Comfort Zone', Lorraine and CEO Frank Granara embark on a team building exercise like never before. This adventurous approach makes it a great primer for any firm wanting to build a loyal workforce capable of making the right things happen. The outrageous tactics used in this book are called Disruptive Training. It really works!
Her third book is the culmination of a life time of experience helping companies Put People First. 'How to Create a Happy Workplace' gives the reader a guide to follow when helping their company mature into a place where people go to work because they want to, not because they have to... what a difference putting people first will make on your bottom line.
'Cooking for a Cause', Lorraine's fourth book, follows a group of Texas Volunteers who have come together to raise over $20 million for charity by providing hot meals to those in need. Their motto - 'People Helping People'.
The Secret these companies and organizations all have in common is... they Put People First.