About the Principal
Unlike lots of leadership speakers, Rob has actually led and managed -- for more than 30 years in and near the dynamic and challenging airline industry.

After earning a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, Rob began his career as a geography professor at universities in the U.S. and Australia.  After a management post-doc at Wharton, he was drawn to airlines, then deregulating after decades of protection. After 3 years with Republic and Northwest, he joined American Airlines in 1987, and stayed 22 years, working all across the enterprise, from I.T. to international planning, from operations to marketing.  
 
Rob led teams in four large departments, with annual budgets as large as $900 million. He worked directly for three CEOs, including the legendary Bob Crandall.  He led through lots of crises, like a pilots’ strike in 1997.  But the biggest call was just after 9/11, when the chief marketing officer asked Rob to help lead American’s advertising and marketing planning after the tragic attacks.  Thus began nearly a decade of finding the way through turbulence; and it was especially during these difficult and emotional times that the embrace of humane values became vital to successful leadership.
 
He began his return to the classroom and conferences in 1989, and has given more than 500 talks . Most of these have been at universities, more than 100 in 21 countries. His talks are always energetic, filled with insights, ideas, and fun.
 
Rob is a steadfast volunteer, and serves on several academic and nonprofit boards. He is married to Linda, an attorney, and has two grown children. For fun and fitness, he rides a red Italian road bike, and tries to keep up with two young granddaughters, and with two noisy terriers.


Capability + Curiosity + Humane Values = RealWorldLeadership

Although it’s hard to distill the essence of authentic leadership, the RWL equation gets close to the heart of what it means to be a leader.

Capability means you’re good at what you do.  Curiosity means you ask lots of questions -- How does that work? How can we make things better? And humane values means you lead with a solid moral compass, embracing universal values like honesty, integrity, and respect for differences.
 
Each of the three RWL elements is essential. One or two are not enough. Curiosity is vital, but must be combined with capability and humanity. Similarly, capability without curiosity and humanity will not yield results.