Terry B. Jones, founder of Travelocity, founding Chairman of Kayak, and current Chairman of WayBlazer, answers questions on innovation, what keeps him up at night, and more.
Jones is the much anticipated speaker for South Florida IMA‘s first summer event taking place on Thursday, June 9.
For more information surrounding the event, check out our Terry B. Jones special event introduction ON Innovation.
1) Companies that were once very innovative can often lose their way when they get bigger. Which companies do you believe have maintained a culture of innovation despite great growth?
While I don’t have firsthand knowledge, I’d say Facebook. They have managed to produce an amazing amount of new product while scaling their team at an insane rate. They have an innovative leader, have some great management hires, and are now a huge company still producing terrific results. Another would be Zappos. Tony has a maniacal focus on culture (perhaps too much?) but the company is still growing well (even inside Amazon) and his experimentation with changing culture is yielding good results.
2) You’ve talked about the need to hire employees who think differently from you. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from an employee who challenged you?
That just because I was the CEO didn’t make me the smartest guy in the room. Leading is about listening much more than talking — I had to listen more and allow myself to be challenged.
3) Who do you admire and why?
I admire passionate leaders. Bob Crandall, the CEO of American Airlines when I was there, was a super passionate guy. He could be very tough to work for. He demanded high quality results and extreme focus on details. Even with his focus on details, he could step back and see the big picture. He was instrumental in making sweeping changes in the airline business and very supportive of new ventures like SABRE and Travelocity. Most passionate leaders are tough to work for (Jobs, for example) but they really get their team to stretch.
4) Which industries outside of travel technology have influenced your approach to business?
Industries that respond to the future. I spoke the other day to a 160-year-old company, Hartford Steam Boiler Insurance. 160 years later they still insure steam boilers, but are also providing cyber insurance and investing in the Internet of Things (not all insurance is so responsive)!
Companies who don’t protect their past. IBM is a good example of a company who is attempting to rapidly change with the change in computing. It is painful, but they are making progress.
5) What excites you most about Wayblazer?
The potential to change travel once again. We did that with booking with Travelocity and Kayak, now we have the opportunity to do it with travel planning; that’s exciting.
6) What keeps you awake at night?
Can every company I’m involved with (I’m on several boards), move quickly enough to survive in this period of rapid change?
7) How do you relax?
I read. I find it very relaxing to disappear into a great book.
Be sure to register for the June 9th event and don’t miss Terry’s innovative, universal business ideology and tips!
For more information on Terry B. Jones, check out http://www.tbjones.com/videos