Reminiscing about the Summer

By: Clark Swanson

My seersucker suit makes its final outing of the season today. That means only one thing–summer’s end.

Sad as it may be, what a summer it was! Our small band of consultants crisscrossed the nation, from New York to Albuquerque, Oregon to Maryland, and most points in between. We endured our reasonable share of early morning flights, sometimes awaking at 3:30 AM to catch the 6:00 AM flight to the next stop. We can tell you from personal experience, Southwest Airlines had another banner travel season, with every flight packed from stem to stern.

Good times.

Summer’s close gives me pause to think about some of the wonderful things I have heard and seen during the season. Let me rattle off a few:

  1. A very unscientific poll shows Southwest flight attendants overwhelmingly prefer printed books to eBooks. This owes to three factors. First, they can read their printed book throughout the whole flight. The FAA requires them to turn-off all e-readers for the first and last 10,000 feet. Second, have you ever seen an electrical outlet on a 737? Finally, they cannot trade eBooks with their fellow crewmembers. (Yes, even pilots like a good read.)
  2. Upstate New York is one of the nation’s biggest hidden treasures. Beautiful, comfortable, it possesses a growing technology sector. Even with all this, the clerk at the Hilton Garden Inn urged me to wrap-up my work there before the end of October, if possible. (There is a reason those fire hydrants have five-foot reflective markers attached to them.)
  3. Great clients make great consultants. Our clients continue to amaze me. They possess a strong desire to make their businesses the best in class. That alone makes all the miles and early flights worthwhile. It is truly inspiring to spend time with them. Thank you.
  4. For those who think libraries are a dying breed, come spend a week with me. This summer, we witnessed traffic levels in these institutions that would surely baffle ardent critics. Yes, libraries must continue to evolve, and they will continue to, but there is a lot left in these venerable institutions.
  5. The retrofit of Southwest’s fleet of 737s is very nice, but I sure do miss those big, thickly padded seats.
  6. Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) is my favorite airport. And, the BWI Hilton my favorite hotel. Both know their business well.
  7. If you ever stay at the BWI Hilton, make sure you cross the street and visit the National Electronics Museum. Those people at Northrop Grumman are incredible.
  8. I saw one of the best historical programs ever (and my wife Sandy can tell you that I have seen many) at a library. It was one of the most improbable things I ever expected—an audience of nearly 400 people simply transfixed for two hours, watching history in the form of an interview between the Library Director and an actor playing William Clarke Quantrill.  If you ever get a chance to see one of these programs at the Kansas City Public Library, I highly recommend it. It is that good.
  9. We have witnessed organizations transform themselves and their services by analyzing data that is readily available to them. Our clients have found that the hard work of discerning micro-trends is far more beneficial than using macro-level pronouncements, which further signifies that the real answers are in the data you already have.
  10. Finally, I simply marvel at how a group of strangers can become fast friends by simply sharing an experience. A recent two-hour delay at midnight in one of the country’s busiest airports proved to be an amazing experience. Simply exchanging one’s life stories can really make a difficult experience a wonderful one. Thanks, guys.

As I close, I see a flock of geese heading South and a little Southwest 737 making its approach to CMH. Ah, the two constants in life— the change of seasons and the Boeing 737, both equally are amazing in their own way.

It was a great summer folks.

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2012

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