Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Thank You David Neeleman, CEO of JetBlue!

A colleague at work brought me a photocopy of an article she had read in the Reader's Digest: Model Planes: How the man behind JetBlue created a great new way to fly. This article highlights the kindness and positive lifestyle of JetBlue's founder and chief executive, David Neeleman. I didn't know he was LDS as I began reading the article, but immediately began thinking something like, "Boy, I bet this guy is deeply religious - and congratulations to whatever religion helped shape him." Then came the punchline: oh, he's LDS! Now of course he could have been Protestant or Catholic or atheist or Buddhist - people of integrity and kindness are found all over the theological map - but the woman who brought me the article told me later that day that the Mormons she has known have a lot in common with David Neeleman (perhaps it's the attention deficit disorder - something I think I also proudly share with Brother Neeleman). I explained, of course, that we have plenty of problems, etc., but it's great to see a fellow Latter-day Saint - or anybody, actually - serving as a CEO the way Brother Neeleman does. It's nice to know that there are people like that at the top of the business world.

12 comments:

Mike Parker said...

I had a chance to meet David Neeleman last summer at a conference. He was very unassuming, and also (quietly) made a very generous financial contribution to the foundation that was hosting the conference. So I can say from personal experience that everything you read is true.

And by coincidence I'm taking my first JetBlue flight tomorrow morning. I've heard good things. I'll report back.

Copedi said...

Looking at all the things you've accomplished, Jeff, I think you manage your ADD better than I do! (I write this as I was supposedly doing some work I get paid for, but I got distracted and went to your blog instead.)

Anyway, in one of the books on
ADHD by Dr. Edward Hallowell ("Driven to Distraction," I think), Hallowell mentions his encounters with Neeleman. It seems Neeleman (who had a hard time getting to his appointments on time) was pretty open about his faith, and Hallowell says he almost considered joining the church — until his wife reminded him what he'd have to give up! I don't remember Hallowell's exact words, but he was favorably impressed that Neeleman could be devout without being holier-than-thou.

Anyway, if you'd ever like to write sometime about how you've managed ADHD, I'd look forward to reading it.

Nate T said...

If I remember correctly he was also interviewed favorably by Thomas Freedman for The World is Flat, Freedman's latest book. His method of recruiting Utah housewives to do his booking got Freedman's attention as a nice counterpoint to outsourcing call center jobs to India.

Mike Parker said...

Reporting back.

My experience on JetBlue was very positive. If I have to fly coach (which is all the time), the accommodations are excellent: slightly wider leather seats, my own satellite TV, fun and friendly staff.

I'll definitely be checking their schedule first when I buy airline tickets in the future.

annegb said...

Wow, that is so cool.

Mike, I am flying Jet Blue the next time I go anywhere.

I didn't know you had ADD, Jeff. I was just thinking about your blog last night (laying awake thinking about the blog) and I thought how cool yours is, because you were a bishop and you're not all stuck up and self righteous and you make me feel more normal.

Anonymous said...

David Neelman has some things to learn about customer service. My connecting flight left without me tonight and the supervisors on the ground blamed me, called security and would not letme on standby for the flight 2 hours later, until I APOLOGIZED to them! This after being 4 hours late last week. I hope this airline goes belly-up.

Connie said...

I've had taken a flight where Mr. Neeleman was on the flight and he was walking down the aisle taking drink orders. He seems like a great guy who doesn't mind getting down to the level of his employees.

As for Anonymous comment, it was probably a result of karma that caused you to be left behind at the airport. If you had shown some grace and apologized, then they probably wouldn't have held you back for 4 hours. I've learned that when you are nice to customer service people, they will go out of their way to accommodate you and if you don't treat them with respect then they'll be the last ones laughing when you are continually delayed.

Anonymous said...

David Neeleman is in my ward in New Cannan, CT along with Glen Beck and all of them... It makes for interesting sunday school lessons

Anonymous said...

I cant believe the morman had nothing with the hard earn money of their church,then piss it away on gay people in california.If you cant figure out what else to do with it try homeless people or pregnant teenagers.
bob roetto

Brian said...

Guess I won't be flying JetBlue anymore. Like the airline, but when you support prop H8 in California and want to discriminate against gays and lesbians...well, what are we to do?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of apologizing, David Neelman, I love your airline and, as a gay man, hope you'll sincerely consider apologizing for minimizing my husband's and my marriage (last October, in California, when it was still legal) and make a donation to marriage equality for all, which is certainly what Jesus would want you to do. Please consider being a true Latter day Saint and do the right thing!

liesl.king said...

I worked for JetBlue almost since the beginning. You will never find a kinder, more unassuming, boss, much less the CEO of your airline. We were encouraged to send thoughts, feelings, ideas to Mr. Neeleman and Mr.Barger regularly via e-mail. I'm here to tell everyone out there, that Mr.Neeleman, not only took the time to answer my personal e-mails immediately, but he also provided numerous opportunities for his crewmembers, that cannot be repeated by anyone, I don't care who they are. I e-mailed him shortly after hurricane Katrina to ask if we might possibly fly supplies into the affected area, that we had been stockpiling for the victims. Less than a week later, we had an Airbus that finished a day of revenue flying and with the work of many, many crewmembers and organizations, we filled the aircraft to capacity with relief supplies. At midnight, we flew into Jackson MS, unloaded the supplies to thousands of incredibly thankful people who ran up and hugged us one by one. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life....my entire career at JetBlue was one of the best learning experiences of my life, thanks to David Neeleman. He set the example first. He also gave human beings the chance to feel like they mattered as revenue airline customers again, and I enjoyed everyday, being a part of this. I would follow him and work for him anywhere, anytime. Best of everything to him, in the future!