As I shared last week, when I first embarked on taking over my father’s company after his passing, it was somewhat overwhelming, and quite frankly daunting. The idea of trying to rebuild a company on the brink of closure, restoring its reputation, and protecting my father’s legacy that took 50 years to establish, was almost too much. Was it not for Dr. Rick Rigsby’s inspirational speech reminding me of who I am and who I can be, I don’t know that I would have had the strength to lift up this behemoth of a company.

At the same time, I stumbled across an old book that I had read back in 2002 (clearly my father was still guiding me), Good to Great, by Jim Collins. This book still sells more than 300,000 copies a year and has sold millions since it first published. Coupled with Dr. Rigsby’s words of wisdom, the book really gave me the foundation and principles I needed to create my vision and take this on. Good to Great has such amazing relevance and insights for today, as we begin to focus on rebuilding our industry and our respective companies. Below are just a few of the principles that helped me navigate from the depths of despair to sustainable success that I believe will help guide us today.

Get the right people on the bus.
Start by getting the right people on the bus, keep the wrong people off the bus, and then make sure that the right people are in the right seats. Review your core values and re-establish your vision, and remember, right now it’s about the Who first, and the What second.

Confront the brutal facts.
One of the most important lessons was dealing with what is, and not what I wanted it to be, preferred it to be, or hoped it to be. You must be willing to identify and assess defining facts in the company and our industry, and base decisions on truths, not fiction; on present, not past. Here is a four-step process to help promote truthful awareness:

1) Lead with questions, not answers.

2) Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion.

3) Conduct autopsies without blame.

4) Build red flag mechanisms that turn information into information that cannot be ignored.

The Hedgehog Concept.
When confronted by predators, the hedgehog’s instinct is to curl up into a protective ball. This single response is simple and works against any attack. Companies need to focus on doing one thing better than anyone else in the world in this industry. This single function will become your “Hedgehog Concept” and allow you to come out of this with new life, vision, and passion. Do one thing better than anyone else.

Find Your Lane.
And focus all your resources toward that area of strength. The single most important discipline is an unyielding commitment to the Hedgehog Concept by ignoring opportunities and activities that do not meet your singular “better than anyone else” criteria.

Steady, consistent progress leads to eventual breakthrough.
Making decisions and taking actions that reinforce and affirm the company’s Hedgehog capacity initiates positive momentum. This results in tangible positive outcomes and serves to energize and earn the loyalty of your team and customers.

Keep yourself from engaging in reactive decision-making, an overextension of too many conflicting areas of concentration, following short-lived trends, personnel loss, loss of morale, and poor results. Find your broom and stay in your lane!


Best regards,

Michael Gelber
CEO – World of Travel
An Ady Gelber Legacy Company.
P: 212.507.9204 M:916.835.6499