This was really fascinating, Taylor!
I would be interested in hearing more about your personal experience at SpaceX, particularly as it relates to the culture that such an operating model drives. Having worked in laboratories with broad and altruistic missions, I’ve still found it easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day mundanity of the scientific process. While you were there, were you personally able to maintain the vision of working toward a multi-planetary human race?
In terms of the long hours, I can see how the sense of ownership could generate pride but I wonder about the sustainability in the long-run. Was there anything else in place to try to make work-life balance more manageable, and did you see a high rate of churn among employees?
Thanks for sharing, Peter! I was interested to learn that Ryanair based its model off of Southwest, because though I see the similarities in terms of low-cost operations, there seems to be a huge divergence when it comes to customer service. Southwest prides itself on being a low-cost carrier that also maintains an inviting atmosphere, a friendly flight crew, and a customer loyalty program. On the other hand, Ryanair seems to have no commitment to customer service— for instance, I remember being dropped off at the wrong airport by a Ryanair flight when I was in Morocco, about 4 hours away from my original destination. Despite the atrocious service, it seems the Ryanair model works because of the extreme price elasticity in the airline industry outside of the business consumer segment. I wonder if there is a possibility for growth in the US of budget airlines with even lower prices than Southwest, with less of an emphasis on customer service, more analogous to the Ryanair model. Perhaps this is the segment Spirit is trying to capture?
Thanks for sharing, Lauren! It was great to get a better understanding of how the REI we know and love has evolved over the past 75+ years.
One thing that I hadn’t thought about until reading your post is the way that REI interacts with a broad range of consumers to make everyone feel welcome in the store, whether its an ultra-marathoner or someone whose never ridden a bike before. What struck me in watching the youtube clip was that this variety of outdoor experience also seems to exist in their employees. I noticed that they all were in very different places on their “outdoor journeys” when hired to the company— for example, some had never hiked before joining REI while others appeared to be adamant outdoor enthusiasts. I wonder if this helps them to empathize with customers who are going through the process of finding outdoor gear they love for the first time.
I thought that REI’s move to close during Black Friday was also interesting, and brilliantly executed. It was amazing to see the flurry of social media around #optoutside and to watch other companies like Outdoor Research follow suit. Clearly, REI is a pioneer in this space!