Leaders We Work With

The company you keep will draw you up or drag you down

These are some of the leaders we’ve worked with…who draw us up.

Herb Kelleher

Late Chairman Emeritus, Southwest Airlines

When we first walked into Herb’s office 30 years ago he treated us like old friends—that’s what we bacame. After two doctoral dissertations on Southwest and a number of consulting assignments, we locked arms to write NUTS!

In January, 2019, Herb graduated from this life and left a whole in our hearts.

Herb disrupted an entire industry with a radically different business model. He loved people, especially the people of Southwest Airlines. Herb also knew that culture, defined at Southwest as: a warrior spirit, servant’s heart and a fun-loving attitude are the secrets to the company’s success.

Dawn Sweeny

Former President and CEO, National Restaurant Association

Dawn led the largest trade group for the U.S. restaurant industry, the National Restaurant Association. We worked closely with Dawn and her executive team to deeply root values, leadership and engagement within the association’s culture.

Dawn has been named one of the top association CEOs in the country for several years. Under her leadership the association’s membership grew by almost 50 percent and the enterprise more than doubled its overall revenues.

Ratan Tata

Former Chairman, India’s Tata Group

We got to know Ratan during our research for Nanovation. We’ve met very few people who think as big as Ratan thinks and are as youthful about innovation and change.

Ratan is the visionary behind the $2500 Nano car. He has taken the Tata Group, a century-old, highly decentralized, highly diversified business conglomerate and turned it into a $75 billion global powerhouse.

Colleen Barrett

Late President Emeritus, Southwest Airlines

Southwest’s irreverent, fun-loving, people-first culture is as famous as the company’s track record for profitability. Colleen is the reason why. Over the years we’ve worked with her to protect and promote Southwest’s unique culture as the company has expanded geographically and doubled in size.

We’ve also tag-teamed with Colleen on a number of presentations to client groups. The focus: Leadership, Culture and Innovation.

Bruce Bochy

Manager, World Champion Texas Rangers...Former Manager, World Champion San Francisco Giants

Bruce led the San Francisco Giants to three World Championships in five years, and then, went on to win a fourth World Series with the Texas Rangers. A lifelong learner and one of the most other-oriented leaders you’ll ever meet, Bruce came to us 22 years ago as a first-year manager and said, “I’d like some help with communication strategy.”

Since then we’ve worked together on his media appearances and as a sounding board for building clubhouse chemistry. Smart, gutsy and never finished, Bruce is always looking for new ways to draw the best out of his players. Along the way we’ve addressed a few of his teams as well.

Carly Fiorina

Opportunity International

Jackie met Carly at an Opportunity International conference and was impressed with her passion to lift women out of poverty through entrepreneurship. Carly is a powerful example of leadership driven by a cause. Of the estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide who live on less than $2 a day, 70% are women. Fiorina, through the organization she founded, One Woman Initiative, is doing something about it.

Imagine a woman in Rawanda who runs a small, but thriving agribusiness or one in Guatemala or Nicaragua who owns a store. These fledgling businesses were started with small loans that have been paid back and are now lifting these women, their families and their communities out of poverty.

Alan Mulally

Former President and CEO of Ford Motor Company and American Icon

Ford retuned to profitability under Mulally, and was the only American major car manufacturer to avoid a bailout fund provided by the government.

We had the honor of getting to know Alan while speaking at the same conference in Pennsylvania. He is a Servant Leader through and through. His leadership style and achievements are chronicled in books, articles and timeless quotes.

We were taken by his transformational story and his simplistic, yet powerful approach to leadership, “People First, love’m up.”

Mary Sammons

Former Chairperson and CEO, Rite Aid Corporation

Mary is widely recognized for the pivotal role she played in engineering the turnaround at Rite Aid. She transformed the company’s culture by giving employees a voice and enlisting their ideas for the necessary changes. Fortune named her to its list of the most powerful women in American business.

We worked with Mary to bring the message of leadership, change and innovation to several of her annual store manager conferences.

Jim Goodnight

Chairman, SAS Institute

Fortune Magazine named SAS a world leader in intelligence-software and the #1 best company to work for in America. Imagine working a 35-hour workweek, seeing a doctor, hitting the gym, picking up a child from daycare, getting a haircut and getting free advice on life/work balance without leaving campus.

We’ve done a number of presentations with Jim at the SAS User Conferences and contributed to SAS’s Better Management Live programs.

R.C. Bhargava

Chairman, Maruti Suzuki

R.C. leads the largest and most successful automobile manufacturing company in India.

His collaborative business approach has led to remarkable achievements in productivity, customer satisfaction and stakeholder engagement.

R.C. and his team invited us to speak on innovation at a global conference of Maruti’s suppliers in Bangkok.

Mehran Assadi

President, Chairman, CEO, National Life Group

One of the most energetic, optimistic and enthusiastic leaders we know, Mehran heads the $1.8 billion National Life Group. You won’t find a person who is more passionate about bringing peace of mind to National Life’s 650,000 policy holders.

We worked with Mehran and his team to define, develop and grow a culture of engagement based on the company’s core values: Do Good. Be Good. Make Good.

Nandan Nilekani

Co-Founder, Infosys

Nandan was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2006. Nandan’s insight into how technology is leveling the global playing field inspired Tom Friedman to write, The World Is Flat. Nandan and his team invited us to present at a global financial services conference sponsored by Finnacle in Malaysia.

Michell DiTondo

Former Senior EVP, HR, MGM
Executive Vice President, Human Resources, MGM Resorts, International. Michelle DiTondo is leading a radical transformation in HR systems and talent development at MGM.
Michelle asked us to participate in MGM’s Leadership Institute, a year long executive development program for high-potential leaders.

Kent Thiry

Chairman and CEO, Davita

We met Kent before Davita was Davita, when it was Total Renal Care. Kent has always been passionate about the power of community in the workplace. In fact, Davita, some 34,000 employees strong is a “village, employees are “citizens,” and Kent is the “Mayor.”

Kent asked us to participate in several of Davita’s annual conferences to reinforce his dedication to employee engagement and empowerment. Attend one of these annual meetings and you will think you’re at a crusade. You are. And Kent Thiry will do almost anything to make you as passionate about the company and its cause as he is—including riding in on horseback, on a zip-line or on his Harley.

His passion is contagious and his theatrics work. Kent and his 34,000 Musketeers have taken a company on the verge of bankruptcy and transformed it into a $6 billion enterprise serving 120,000 dialysis patients every week.

Jeff Simmons

President, Elanco Animal Health

Jeff took the principles in several of our books and used them to create one of the premier breeding grounds for entrepreneurs in the world—Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly. Under Jeff’s gutsy leadership Elanco has experienced phenomenal growth.

We have collaborated with Jeff on a number of presentations designed to make innovation and accountability part of Elanco’s DNA.

Rob Katz

Former Chairman & CEO, Vail Resorts

Vail Resorts is the largest ski resort company in the world. We worked with Rob and his senior leadership team to reinforce Vail’s incredibly special culture at their annual Leadership Summit.

Rob is a huge believer in the idea that great leadership starts with self awareness. He is one of the gutsiest leaders we’ve met because he he’s not afraid—to be vulnerable, to speak the truth and demand the same from others. This is one reason why Vail has such a powerhouse culture filled with people who love what they do.

Ernie Sadau

President & CEO, CHRISTUS Health

With over 30 years in health care, Ernie has been a major change agent at CHRISTUS and a major driver of the organization’s culture of inclusion. Ranked among the top 10 Catholic health systems in the U.S., CHRISTUS includes more than 40 hospitals and facilities in the U.S. and Mexico.

We’ve worked with Ernie to deliver several presentations including one to the board of directors at CHRISTUS.

Gary Kelly

Chairman, Southwest Airlines

When Herb decided to give up his titles, Gary ultimately got the nod. He was the perfect successor in that he brought the necessary systems, structure and discipline to help manage Southwest’s incredible growth.

We worked with Gary and some of his team when he was CFO. The focus was on leadership development and creating a culture of accountability.

Chad Linebaugh

President, Sundance Mountain Resort

Robert Redford’s passion for the environment is woven into the very DNA of the Sundance culture. You can see and feel it everywhere you go at this one-of-a-kind, rustic, yet elegant resort. One of the people responsible for implementing Redford’s vision is Chad Linebaugh, general manager of Sundance Mountain Resort.

Under Chad’s leadership, Sundance continually works to up its game without losing the heart and soul—independent thought, creative expression and unlimited discovery–of its iconic founder. We worked with the Sundance Resort to reinforce an already-vibrant culture of hospitality and accountability.

Saeed Dashti

Former Chairman, Kuwait Gulf Link (KGL)

KGL is into everything from cargo transport, port management and stevedoring to car rental, real estate and shipping. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, all of KGL’s assets were either confiscated or destroyed. Saeed was faced with the challenging task of rebuilding.

Today, KGL is a $1b conglomerate and amazingly, Saeed is leading the movement to stabilize Iraq through funding small and medium-sized businesses. We were invited to Egypt to discuss innovation with the CEOs of KGL’s business units..

Jim Rogers

Former Chairman & CEO, Kampgrounds of America

Chairman and CEO, KOA Campgrounds of America. Jim, not only runs the world’s largest camping organization, he became the “Undercover Boss” on CBS’s hit reality show. Great exposure for KOA and a great way to celebrate a record year and the company’s 50th anniversary.

Jim invited us to speak at KOA’s annual franchisee conference. Campground owners face the ever challenging task of competing for discretionary/entertainment dollars by keeping their properties relevant. Our task was to help them accelerate innovation.

Brent Richardson

Former Executive Chairman, Grand Canyon University

Brent and his team purchased a small obscure, near-bankrupt university and turned it into an IPO success story. Grand Canyon University has grown from a sleepy little place with 1200 students to one of the most successful private Christian universities in the U.S. with 45,000 students. Located on 100 acres in the middle of Phoenix, Grand Canyon has approximately 4,000 students on campus; the rest make up one of the fastest-growing online universities in the world.

Brent invited us to address the entire faculty and staff several times to support his effort to radically differentiate Grand Canyon from its competitors.

Mike Easley

Former CEO, Powder River Energy Corporation

Mike runs the largest electric cooperative in Wyoming. A student of leadership with a bias for action and an X-Prize kind of thinker, Mike has positioned PRECorp as one of the most innovative companies in the cooperative movement.

We have presented at several of his annual meetings to raise the level of employee engagement and make innovation an even stronger part of PRECorp’s cultural DNA. Also, we served as executive coaches to help him make PRECorp a strategically aligned, values-focused, and member-centric organization.

Michael Beaver

Senior Vice President, Worldwide Sales and Customer Success, BMC Software

BMC is one of the largest mainframe software manufacturers in the world. Michael leads a salesforce that is adapting to major shifts in the market.

We were invited to address his senior account reps and help them rise to the challenge of selling to senior executives, in charge of business units, who don’t speak “techno-eeze.” We helped build a business case for why they needed to make this uncomfortable shift and gave them strategies for doing it.