I second that emotion! I've liked the stock exchange for a long time. I can remember when I was a little girl--in the days before the Internet--my dad would turn on CNN, tell me three letters to look for, and then I was to shout out the numbers that followed. He had me checking stock prices as they'd rise and fall throughout the day.
And of course, I love--or rather, LUV--Southwest Airlines. I think I really hit the jackpot when I came to work for Southwest nearly eight years ago.
Throw in a little enjoyment of Robert's Rules of Order back from my Parliamentarian days in my Camp Fire club and you can only imagine how much fun I had a few years ago when I went to my first actual Shareholders' Meeting here at Southwest! It was great to watch--voting by proxy, making motions, seconding motions, opening items for discussion, adjourning the meeting. It was by far the most formal, business-like aspect of Southwest Airlines I'd ever seen. But even with everyone in suits, making statements for the record, it still had those typical Southwest elements of fun and family.
One of the things I noticed from my first Shareholders' Meeting was that the people making the nominations were not just Shareholders, they were Employees. This shouldn't have surprised me. Southwest always puts our Employees first--that way we can take good care of our Customers--who make life good for our Shareholders. This is also interesting because Employees own about ten percent of the shares of our Company. But most of all, I thought about how really cool it would be to one day actually be part of the meeting and play a role as a Shareholder.
Well, at the recent 2008 Shareholders' Meeting, I had the distinct honor of playing a small--make that miniscule--role in the meeting by seconding Captain Dave "Bubba" Edens’ motion to nominate our Board of Directors. A couple of months ago, when I got the e-mail from our General Counsel department asking that I serve as a nominator I was thrilled! Ahh, the joy of parliamentary procedure--there's just something great about that! I also realized that this would be a very special meeting for SWA. Herb Kelleher, our Co-Founder and Leader, would be stepping down from his title as Executive Chairman and would be handing the gavel to our CEO, Gary Kelly, who was elected the new Chairman.
So Herb's final meeting was quintessential Southwest Airlines: laughter, tears, hugs, kisses, jokes, and unmatched business acumen. It was touching to watch Herb as he reveled in the adoration of Employees, Customers, and Shareholders. Colleen Barrett, our President, made a heartwarming presentation about the value of relationships.
I am seated on the far left in a sea of Pilots who came out to show support for Herb's last meeting! My line came in six minutes into the meeting and lasted for nine whole seconds. It wasn't earth shattering, but it sure was fun! You can hear it on southwest.com. But the best part by far was when Herb started speaking about the People of Southwest. It happens around the one-hour, ten minute mark in the web cast, and wow, it's such a touching picture of how much this Company means to him. The meeting concluded with lots of presentations, more heartfelt thanks to Herb and Colleen, and the final tap of the gavel. But, to sum it up, a meeting that was intended to focus on LUV (our stock), wound up being all about love.
Thanks Herb and Colleen for all you've done for us. The song that I used for the title of this post has a line that I think is very appropriate. "So if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion, I second that emotion."