Nuts About Southwest, But Not Gary Kelly's Profile

October 9th, 2008 | by Jason Alba |

I am nuts about Southwest airlines.  I ALWAYS want to fly Southwest… the price is always right, I like their culture, their in-flight magazine, their sense of humor… I like it all.

Today I went to their blog and noticed at the very bottom they have a bunch of links to their social media profiles.  One was to a LinkedIn profile, which I was curious about because you aren’t supposed to put a company as a Profile.  I clicked over and found it was their CEO’s (Gary Kelly) personal Profile.  Smart.

As I’m checking out Gary’s Profile I realize there are a bunch of things I’d do differently.  So I grabbed some screenshots and thought I’d share them with you.

As far as information goes, this is good enough.  How freaking cool it would be to be CEO of the airlines that changed it all?

Regarding your picture: I LOVE IT.  It is totally on brand.  The plane in the background is something I totally connect with, since I’m on it so often.

The next part is okay… I’m not impressed that you only have 36 connections.  I’m guessing you set this up and haven’t really come back to it?  Now, I understand that if you were to grow your network, you’ll probably get more Inmail and Introduction requests than you care to handle.  But it seems like someone your age (I only say this because as you get older, you should accumulate more professional contacts) would have more connections.

Of course, perhaps you don’t want any of your really important executive contacts listed as connections… you should be extra sensitive with those relationships.  I recommend you get other people in Southwest to connect to you, get your number of connections up, and…

… where are the Recommendations?  I’m guessing you are pretty cool, Gary!  And just saying you are CEO of Southwest is good enough for me… but if I saw you had a bigger network, and had Recommendations from your professional contacts, I might get a better sense of what your professional capabilities, skills, etc. are.  You never know what other companies are looking at/for you.

Finally, under websites, PLEASE change “My Company” to “Southwest Website”… or even “Feel the LUV at Southwest” or something with the Southwest personality and culture in it.

Change “My Blog” to “Nuts About Southwest (the blog)” or something like that.  It really isn’t YOUR blog, and I’m not seeing any posts from you (I didn’t dig).  So name it appropriately.  Even better, dude, START YOUR OWN BLOG!  I bet you’d be a very popular blogger.  Not just Southwest stuff, but CEO of one of the greatest companies around.  I know you are a busy guy, and your legal department will spill coffee on their keyboards when they read this, but I seriously think you should start a blog.  And then you can call it “My blog” (even though you should call it “Gary’s Blog – What I Do” or something like that).

Finally, regarding “Productivity Tips.”  I just don’t get that… is that a special site to buy a ticket somewhere?  Because I was looking for productivity tips.  I thought I’d go to your favorite productivity blog, or list of tips.  That’s not what I found when I clicked there.  You are confusing me, and wasting what I consider valuable real estate on this Profile.

Gary, I realize you don’t care to have anyone find your Profile and hunt you down through LinkedIn (again, that “busy” thing).  But you know what’s killing me here?  Reading your Profile is like listening to a kid scrape their fingernails on a chalkboard.


Because Southwest is LUV!  Southwest is FUN!  Southwest is full of people who smile all the time, people who’d I’d like to hang out with!…. Your Profile summary is CLICHE.  It’s boring… it’s all the stuff I’d expect to see from any other boring CEO, but it’s NOT what I expect to see from the CEO of Southwest.

You get 2,000 characters… please go in and put some of that Southwest CHARM into your Profile!

Here’s some missed opportunity.  Again, you represent an amazing culture… please, please, please go in and share some of that culture and get me excited about what it would mean to work in the accounting or finance department at Southwest!

Did you have fun?  Did you do awesome stuff?  Were you excited when you were there, and was this the coolest accounting/finance experience you could have in a career?  SHARE THAT WITH ME!  Sell me (even more) on how cool it is to be a Southwest insider!

I want your culture to bleed off of your Profile.

Hope this was as fun for you to read as it was for me to write!  If you hate me by now, my real name is John Smith.  If you don’t hate me, perhaps you can talk to those Spirit magazine people and have them write about my LinkedIn book… the second edition is about to come out.  Oh yeah, and I think ALL of your employees should get a copy for Christmas ;)  I’m kidding, of course.  No, I’m not.

See your team on Sunday!

  1. 15 Responses to “Nuts About Southwest, But Not Gary Kelly's Profile”

  2. By Drew on Oct 9, 2008 | Reply

    I believe this profile was set up by Southwest as part of the business traveler-targeted Nick Pudder “” ad campaign that they ran at the beginning of this year, hence the “productivity” specialty and “Productivity Tips” link. Frankly, I’d be very surprised if Gary Kelly had a personal interest in and use for LinkedIn.

    Gary Kelly has posted to the Southwest blog. Browse here:

  3. By Jason Alba on Oct 10, 2008 | Reply

    @Drew, thanks for the information. And yeah, I should have dug a little…

  4. By Shane Smith on Oct 10, 2008 | Reply

    Here is an example of how marketing developed a value proposition and how customers do seem to Luv Southwest Airlines.

    I believe that positioning + positive attitude + the customer experience at every touch point = Brand. Jason is right, what a lost opportunity to continue the Luv brand message on LinkedIn. Especially from the top.

    We’re excited Southwest is coming to the Twin Cities marketplace in March 2009. Here is a little Luv back at you Mr. Kelly and Mr. Alba.

  5. By Deb Dib on Oct 10, 2008 | Reply

    Jason, this is a genius post that really hits home for me as a CEO brand and career strategist.

    It makes me NUTS when I see a CEO who is SO tied to a creative, profitable, viscerally branded company like Southwest, come across as a corporate drone on LinkedIn.

    It just kills me. I feel like shaking Gary and saying, “What are you thinking!!!!” Your customers LUVVVVVVV your airline and they know you’re the visionary and they want to know about YOU. But no, we get corporate speak.

    Gary needs to take the courage and vision he’s shown in leading Southwest to have among the best customer loyalty of any airline and use that courage to get real in his profile. And he should be on Twitter and Facebook, too, if he isn’t already. Even if he has to use a surrogate who understands and can project his brand to get him started on it. A brand that elicits such an emotional response from it’s fans, need to fuel that emotional connection right from the top, and not just in a blog.

    My colleague Barbara Safani and I presented a LinkedIn seminar to a select group of CEOs last fall (thanks Jason, for setting that up for us). We found that almost every one of the CEOs was very distrustful of LinkedIn because they felt it would open them up to unwanted attention from job seekers, vendors, etc; destroy their privacy; make it seem like they were looking for a job; and subject any high-level connections they made to the same difficulties.

    So it’s possible Gary (and/or his marketers) have the same concerns. But I’ve never had a senior-level client regret being on LinkedIn or have difficulties. Quite the reverse in fact — the more branded and open they are, the better the results they get.

    So Gary, as a personal brand strategist and as a loyal, even fanatical Southwest passenger (I won’t ever move to a city not near a Southwest hub and groan when I have to fly to an area Southwest doesn’t serve), I beg you, PLEASE extend your cool brand to your Linkedin profile and see what happens.

    You can always go back to the old, boring “this is Gary not really being Gary” profile. But why would you want to? Be bold — its your brand — feel the LUV.

    Jason, maybe you need a version of your “You get it” contest for LinkedIn profiles?

    Deb Dib, the CEO Coach

  6. By Chris Blackman on Oct 12, 2008 | Reply

    Wonder when Gary Kelly might chime in on this thread?

  7. By Bill E on Oct 13, 2008 | Reply

    Your suggestion of changing the “My Company” link to something more descriptive is a good one.

    But…it’s a linked in limitation. They give you room for three links. The first two of these only accept canned pulldowns like “My Company”, “My Website”, “My Blog”, etc.

    The last link allows you to customize the anchor text, hence Gary’s choice of “productivity tips”.

  8. By Jason Alba on Oct 13, 2008 | Reply

    @Bill – actually, you can change all three lines. I blogged about it here.

  9. By Maria Elena Duron on Oct 15, 2008 | Reply

    Brilliant post! I like the way you reviewed his profile and am taking pointers. Thanks!

  10. By Paul Zagoridis on Jul 23, 2009 | Reply

    To add weight to @Drew. He’s still at 36 connections and nothing has changed. Sad really.

    I don’t expect a CEO to be totally up to date with established branding trends. Especially in something as new as Social Media. Heck LI’s been around only 6 years? Gary’s job is to lead.

    I’d say his LI profile in in the final 1% of execution strategy. He doesn’t need to be there but he’s a company man.

    Another interestingly boring profile is for Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos.

    I’m thinking that if everybody knows your brand, you don’t need to sell it as hard in your LinkedIn profile. In Tony’s case he’s well connected and everybody knows who he is.

  11. By Chris Blackman on Jul 23, 2009 | Reply

    [QUOTE]Another interestingly boring profile is for Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos.

    I’m thinking that if everybody knows your brand, you don’t need to sell it as hard in your LinkedIn profile. In Tony’s case he’s well connected and everybody knows who he is.[/QUOTE]

    Yes, especially the folks over at Amazon.

  12. By Jason Alba on Jul 24, 2009 | Reply

    Interesting thoughts Paul and Chris.

    Originally I wrote this post from a personal branding perspective, and to show an example of a LI Profile brand that is not congruent with the corporate brand – this stuck out like a sore thumb because (a) Southwest’s brand is so strong, and (b) Gary is the CEO, and (c) Southwest seems to have some kind of social strategy in place, but this is like the neglected ugly duckling.

    Contrast that to Tony’s… I have no idea what their social strategy is, except that Tony is super hot on Twitter and has done a FANTASTIC job using that social tool to share ideas, get ideas, share his brand, etc. LinkedIn isn’t much for getting or sharing ideas… not like Twitter, anyway.

    Tony has a lack of info here, and only 3 connections, which isn’t surprising… it just looks to me like he has chosen to not do anythint with LI (won’t hurt him at all, as Chris mentions).

    The difference is that SW put a link to this Profile from when of their websites… whereas I’ve never seen Tony or Zappos put a link to Tony’s LI Profile from any page. (granted, I haven’t really looked)

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