Southwest Airlines’ 2008 shareholder’s meeting was of the most historic in our 37 year history. Our CEO, Gary Kelly, outlined the many challenges we would face in the coming year owing to rising fuel costs and a slowing economy. And, our legendary co-founder and chairman of the board, Herb Kelleher, stepped down from his chairman position and officially handed over the gavel to Gary, amidst a tear-jerking tribute from our pilots.
But it was a much less publicized change that captured the attention of a few curious Employees. After nearly 30 years, long-time Southwest Leader Bob Jordan had shaved his mustache.
Public Relations Manager Whitney Eichinger was greeting shareholders and media in the lobby when she first made the discovery.
“Oh my gosh,” Eichinger exclaimed. “I almost died when I saw him. I was so excited, I had to tell someone.”
Eichinger immediately sent a text message to colleague Paula Berg who was planning to watch the shareholder’s meeting from a second floor in-circuit television.
“When I read Whitney’s text, I dropped what I was doing and ran to the television to see if I could catch a glimpse” said Berg.
The shareholder’s meeting began promptly at 10:00 a.m., shortly after which, Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly asked his Executive Planning Committee to please stand. Just as Bob Jordan turned to wave to the crowd, the camera panned by him giving many Employees their first-ever glimpse of Bob Jordan “sans stash.”
“Yatzee,” cried Berg, informing everyone in the immediate vicinity that Bob Jordan had, in fact, shaved his mustache and that she had just seen it on the screen.
“My college-aged kids had both been after me for years to get rid of it,” Jordan later said, when he was accosted by Eichinger and Berg. “It wasn’t until a friend at the gym told me ‘Dude – having a moustache is like having a mullet’ that I decided to get rid of it.”