How Excellence Pays

October 19, 2020

What do an airline and my youngest daughter, Sydney, have in common?

Delta Airlines, the company I flew for, intentionally and consistently worked to create and maintain a culture of excellence in every aspect of its operations. I saw it up close, was proud to be a part of it, and gained from the fruits of that continuous effort. Customers, employees, and shareholders have all benefited from the company's focus on excellence, and the results speak for themselves.

DELTA: The World's Most Awarded Airline!
Delta has won more awards for excellence than any other airline in the world. A recent 2020 sampling includes:

  • The best U.S. airline ranked No. 1, by the Wall Street Journal.
  • Best Long-Haul Airline by Business Travel Awards
  • Top 50 Most Admired Companies by Fortune magazine; #1 most admired airline, #19 overall.
  • 100 Best Companies to Work For; Best Workplaces for Diversity, by Great Place to Work® and Fortune magazine. Delta was the only passenger airline to be included.

And while awards are great, the key factor in business is making money. Delta is also the most profitable airline in the history of aviation!

SYDNEY’S First Job
She came into my office excited about her first ‘real’ job. Still a college student, Sydney had gotten a part-time job at the hotel’s front desk for the summer. The customer volume at the hotel was seasonal and their policy was last hired, first fired when things got slow. That was the deal, and she expected to have to look for another job after the busy summer season ended.

I asked if she was open to getting some advice from ‘dear old dad’, and she said she was all ears. We talked about approaching the job in a spirit of excellence - doing the best that she could do, treating her customers and fellow team members with dignity and respect, taking the initiative to do a little more and to go the extra mile. She committed herself to doing just that.

A couple of months later, Sydney stopped by to visit me. She told me that the hotel’s general manager had come to the front desk on her shift to introduce himself and to “see who Sydney was” (that could be another story on knowing your people, but I digress). Her consistent high customer service ratings had brought her to his attention. Well, the busy season finally ended, and it was time to let people go. To her surprise, three people senior to her were laid off, but Sydney kept her job. To top it off, he gave her a 10% raise.

So, the answer to my opening question is obvious. Both Delta, in business, and Sydney, in life, clearly demonstrate HOW EXCELLENCE PAYS!


“If you don't do it with excellence, don't do it at all! Because if it's not excellent, it won't be profitable or fun.”
-Robert Townsend