The CEO Of Delta Reveals His Secrets

Richard Anderson, the CEO of Delta Air Lines, was interviewed by the New York Times and shared his tips on hiring (ask about their family life), running meetings (no Blackberries!), and dealing with customers: “I find myself, more and more, writing hand-written notes to people,” he says. “I must write a half a dozen a day.” These are apology notes, we’re guessing.

He also says that too many executive types aren’t good communicators:

[I'm looking for] really good communication skills. More and more, the ability to speak well and write is important. You know, writing is not something that is taught as strongly as it should be in the educational curriculum. So you’re looking for communication skills.

We think, in light of this statement, our policy of suggesting an EECB for when you can’t get a problem solved is actually helpful to executives. It gives them a chance to practice their communication skills.

Here’s Anderson’s list of rules regarding time management:

1. Only touch paper once.
2. Always have your homework done.
3. Return your calls very promptly.
4. Stick to your schedule.

Interesting. Compare those to my time management rules, which may explain why I’m not on the CEO career track:

1. “Let’s see what’s on Twitter.”
2. It’s always time for another beer.
3. Let it go to voicemail.
4. Blame it on Google Calendar.

Anderson also brings a bell to meetings, which is sort of like a talking stick, except it’s used to silence someone who has gotten too off-topic or personal. That’s a pretty good idea, but I’ve heard tell of someone at SAP who used to remove all the chairs from a meeting room before starting the meeting—this prevented anyone from becoming too comfortable and kept meetings shorter. Then you’d have even more time to write all those apology notes, Mr. Anderson. You’re welcome.

“He Wants Subjects, Verbs and Objects” [New York Times]