Action Catalyst Blog

Making Difficult Decisions in Times of Turbulence with Gary Kennedy – Episode 232 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

Gary Kennedy, general counsel of American Airlines between 2003 and 2013. Kennedy had his dream job in what he calls “the sexiest industry in the world.”

His time there was anything but a smooth ride. Kennedy told Corporate Counsel in an interview that from the moment he took the job in 2003 until he retired in 2013, the company was buffeted by crisis after crisis, with the legal department doing much of the navigating.

Recently Kennedy’s book, “Twelve Years of Turbulence,” arrived in bookstores telling the inside story of the airline’s fight for survival. Some research and editing for the book was done by former Dallas Morning News aviation reporter Terry Maxon, while former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, a former AA board member, wrote the foreword.

Show Highlights:

Gary shares his 9/11 experience with American Airlines.

One of our first confirmations was a phone call from a flight attendant on the plane. – Gary Kennedy

An important and difficult decision was made to ground all planes right away. – Gary Kennedy

The aviation system was shut down for 3 or 4 days entirely. – Gary Kennedy

People did not trust they could fly and fly safely. – Gary Kennedy

By 2002, American airlines was loosing 30million dollars a day.- Gary Kennedy

We were faced with one problem after the other. – Gary Kennedy

When bad things happen, ultra performers come up with creative alternative explanations. @rory_vaden

In emotional situations of urgency, think long term. @rory_vaden

Evaluate your priorities through the lens of significance. @rory_vaden

Absent the significant calculation we inadvertently overweight the urgency calculation. @rory_vaden


The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review.

Leave a Reply