I started as a flight attendant with a start-up airline called Compass Airlines when I was 20 years old. I was recruited while I was 19. When I look back, I was so young and naïve, but thought I knew so much. Before I knew it, I was moving my life from Brisbane to Melbourne, on an Australian Airlines flight. I was terrified of flying that day. I had never been on an aircraft before. That is one question they forgot to ask me, at my interview.
This new airline was not strong enough, to survive the might of the domestic duopoly, that controlled the Australian skies at the time. However, my passion for the job prevailed. I was boarding an international flight one year later (I had never been overseas, and they forgot to ask me that as well) to take up a job with a middle eastern carrier called Gulf Air.
Fast forward a couple of years later, and I was now very proudly back in Australia working for Qantas Airways. It was a tough gig to secure at the time, but the recruiters saw something they liked.
The lessons I learned from my beginnings as a flight attendant, taught me so many very valuable lessons that I carry forward in business today.
Here are a few:
1. Systemise everything.
Manuals work in every company. No matter the size, when you have a ‘how to’ manual you will save time and error in almost every aspect of your business. If you are a ‘one person’ operator and it is all ‘in your head’, you can look forward to your business being worth a lot less, if you ever decide to sell. Every business should be set up to sell. Systemization, manuals and how to support notes, by default, add value to the sale of your business, if you ever decide to retire.
2. Learn lessons from mistakes.
When something fails, the airlines call it a ‘Swiss Cheese Event’. For something to fail it needs to slip through several systems before it does. No matter how small, it is worth pulling apart every failure or error to discover how it can be done better next time. We are forever tweaking systems to better outcomes at our office.
3. People are everything.
My day was always brighter when I was in the company of a truly exceptional character. A crew member with a positive reputation, was all it took for you to know, your day would be great. Positivity is infections, as is your business culture. Sometimes longer flights would allow for more time to get to know a passenger, beyond superficiality. Digging deeper with a person and getting to know them better, was rarely a waste of time.
4. When it’s just a job it will be terrible. When its more than a job it will be a dream.
· Simon Sinek would call this your why. Establish why you are doing what you are doing and make you day about this. Knowing ‘what’ you are doing is a given. Every flight attendant is recruited for specific tasks. Knowing why you are doing it, changes everything. We manage bookkeeping and accounting for small businesses, but we also provide advisory services to help small businesses recognise their growth potential. Focus in on ,why,.
5. Management style.
Support, inspire and collaborate with your team and you will bring out their best. Bring you team along on your business journey and offer training.
Dictate and control and you will bring out the worst.
I was privy to so many different management styles, during my time in the skies. My least favourite; when I was chased out of the airport by a manager who was in a hot mess and wanted me reprimanded immediately, for something that was out of my control. (Very long story)
Two different styles and one with a much larger staff turnover than the other.
6. Be authentic.
People will love you when you are just being you. Don’t act an entrepreneur, or rich or poor. Just be a person. You are more relatable if you are ‘just a person’. News flash: Everyone knows when you are not being yourself. Whether meeting a new person socially or professionally, relatability usually always wins.
Tea or Coffee, was so much more. Thanks Q.