When a teacher walks into a classroom full of young minds each morning, her call-to-action is immediate and meaningful. Purpose isn’t something she has to search for, it’s always clear and right in front of her. The same can’t always be said of my current role, communicating through the Southwest Airlines social channels. Since leaving education, my purpose at Southwest is real, and the impact is meaningful, but I don’t have those same face-to-face moments from my teaching days.
Nearly six months ago, Elizabeth Kellogg posted a picture onTwitter of her pre-k classroom turned Southwest Airlines baggage claim, terminal, and airplane. Mrs. Kellogg was using her favorite airline to teach the little minds in her Scottsdale classroom about geography, math, and customer service. When I responded through the Southwest Airlines Twitter account, Mrs. Kellogg and I immediately connected over our teaching backgrounds and I asked if I could send a little something to her small Southwest fans. Our Team sent inflight goodies and wings for everyone, as well as a Southwest mug to keep Mrs. Kellogg "fueled." It was a small gesture for our loyal and creative fan.
Months and months later in mid-June I heard from Pam Korzeniowski who works in Southwest's Training Department (Southwest University) who asked if I knew an Elizabeth Kellogg from Arizona.
Pam emailed: “Elizabeth is just finishing up her final week in CS&S training. She’s been telling all of us that you’re the reason she’s here. You’re her Southwest story! Something about a message you sent her on Twitter and gifts you sent her classroom. I’d love it if you could come to graduation Friday so you two could meet in person."
I read the email over and over again, in disbelief. A few days later I found myself, beaming and cheering at Elizabeth’s graduation. As I introduced myself, tears rolled down my and Elizabeth's faces as we hugged for the first time, now as Cohearts. Having never considered applying before, Elizabeth was inspired by Southwest’s friendliness and willingness to go above and beyond to make a Customer feel special; she knew that this was something she had to be a part of.
At the graduation, Elizabeth handed me a key necklace with the word “Believe” engraved into it; a token of her appreciation for how my words and actions made her believe that this new journey of hers was possible. Her words and actions might’ve served to thank me, but in reality, I needed to thank her. Elizabeth reminded me that every role in this Company has the power to impact, inspire, and enrich the lives of others, even if our role doesn’t put us face-to-face with the Customer.