Friday, July 01, 2011

Learning to Fly Southwest Style

July 1, 2011

Going to Santa Fe on July 14, for a big Billy the Kid show and forum at Due West Gallery on San Francisco Street. Yesterday I tweaked a half dozen Billy images for framing, including this little study, "Billy's Backyard Ballet" (McSween house breakout).

I actually worked on another, more ambitious version of this climactic scene when McSween's men made a break for the side gate from the last remaining room of the burning house. The incredible fact of this fight is that the four shooters along the back wall were only 15 feet from the door! One of the back gate shooters brought down the first man to reach the gate (Harvey Morris, a law student), then Billy fired back, forcing the men there to duck, which allowed all the men with Bonney to escape, jumping over the dead body of Morris in the gate and making it to the creek bottom and safety. Of course, McSween himself came out in a second group and most of those fighters were killed. Here's the more ambitious version of this scene:

Learning to Fly Southwest Style

Grabbed the Spirit magazine off of our flight to Denver last weekend. Southwest Airlines is turning 40 and in the mag they discussed some of the attributes that have made them stand out in a difficult industry. Here are a few of my favorite points from the magazine:

• Texas is a place that honors the truth yet harbors a fondness for the tallest of tales. (ditto for True West)

• Texas is a people who value courage and hard work, yet know how to have a good time. (ditto our readers)

• You know how management consultants tell you to think out of the box? Texas is out of the box. it's too big for the box. (now there's an attitude to aspire to!)

• Keep the idea simple enough to draw on a napkin (Southwest's business plan was written on a cocktail napkin in a bar in 1966)

• Recognize the drama (what if the airline was formed by a dozen lawyers in a Manhattan board room. Not the same thing.)

• Raise more money than you think you need. Now double it. (Amen)

• Crazy is no liability (Is America Ready for A Gay Western? Was Geronimo A Terrorist? Do crazy questions sell magazines?)

• Target the overcharged and underserved

• Be the good guy.

• Two strikes is one hit away from a home run.

• Recognize your luck

• Lack of money makes you frugal.

• Promote from within (meet Abby Goodrich, our up and coming multi-media wizard)

• Invent your own culture and put a top person in charge of it.

• Have a recognizable home (Cave Creek is a great home, unfortunately, Anaheim, where our subs go, is not)

• A crisis can contain the germ of a big idea (newsstand is dying, what about controlled circ in heritage hotels?)

• Simplicity has value (clean, simple covers, with an iconic image)

• It doesn't hurt to look like a toy (airplanes painted with animals on them are cat nip to kids. What is our version of this?)

• Get into fun advertising wars (Southwest goes after rivals with biting satire: "We'd like to match their new fares but we'd have to raise ours.")

• Take your business, not yourself seriously (when a rival used the same tag line, rather than going to court, the Southwest CEO arm wrestled the rival CEO, and lost, but the subsequent media feeding frenzy was a boon to Southwest and gave them a Good Guy image)

• Put your workers first (before Southwest planes take off, the pilots get a printout of the value of their stock at that moment)

• The web ain't cool. It's a tool.

• It's OK to be unprofitable for a year (Just be sure to be profitable for a least the next 39)

If this isn't inspiring to you, I suggest you read it again.

"Come to the edge." "We can't. We're afraid." "Come to the edge." "We can't. We will fall!" "Come to the edge." And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew."

—Guillaume Apollinaire

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