Although Graham Turner is the managing director of the multi-billion dollar Flight Centre Travel Group, he remains down to earth and is respected by peers of his industry for his egalitarian leadership approach. He values his 20,000+ employees and works to recognise people that contribute to the organisation, in more ways than just financially, and to each other.
Graham grew up in the bush for his first 15 years, but his upbringing significantly shaped his life. Because he was “so bored” during his childhood, that instilled in him a desire to travel and have other experiences in the world. That ambition drove him to start Top Deck Travel in 1973, which slowly evolved into the Flight Centre travel business in 1981.
I recently interviewed Graham Turner, the CEO of Flight Centre. And I asked him what his view of his business was. He said … “I, and the people around me, are never satisfied with where we are now. We want to grow, not just in linear or horizontal fashion. We want to grow in a three-dimensional way. It [empire building] is generally about growth, not just in numbers, but in what we do and how we do things. ” You should check out the article I wrote on the mustamplify.com site titled – “3 Entrepreneurial Lessons from a CEO of a Multi-Billion Dollar Company” … I promise you wont regret it.
Reflecting upon his decades-long career as an entrepreneur, Graham shared a few Entrepreneurial Lessons he’s learned along the way.
#1 – The Business World Is Constantly Changing So You Must Evolve Too
Every few years in business, things will be fairly different than they were before. It’s best to be agile and have a growth mindset so your business will be able to keep up with changes in the industry. Inevitably, there will be times where you will fall behind but persevere. Grow in a linear and vertical way, but consider growing three-dimensionally too, meaning expanding horizontally, vertically, and in adjunct areas. Remember, growth is not just about the numbers but also in your operations and implementation of ideas. Entrepreneurial Lessons are easy to come by when you are evolving.
#2 – Love What You Do and Do What You Love
It is important that you enjoy what you do. Getting into a field just for the money is not a really good idea. It may seem like a good idea, but if you are really passionate about your field then your chances of success will be so much greater. When you’re an entrepreneur, you should enjoy what you are doing on an everyday basis, even if you do not necessarily love the end product. Of course, you need a viable financial model and business strategy, but find people you get on with and enjoy your work.
#3 – Cultivate a Culture of Equality and Diversity
One of Graham’s core values is egalitarianism. When he first co-founded Top Deck Travel in London in 1973, the entire organisation worked alongside each other as equals. Although Flight Centre has grown to a sizable business and tough decisions have needed to be made, Graham still revisits organisational structure and the health of the company’s culture on a regular basis. Modelling respect between colleagues is imperative. A mixture of attributes, personalities, and preferences is needed as well to learn and listen from a variety of opinions.
These are a few of Graham’s guiding principles and key pieces of advice for fellow entrepreneurs. However, he shared that there is no single pathway to success in business. If you aren’t as successful as you like, do something about it.
Create a plan for your business. Along the way on your journey you may make some pit stops, but that plan will guide you through to your final destination as an entrepreneur.
Author: Ronsley Vaz
Ronsley is the founder & chief day dreamer at AMPLIFY. He is an author, speaker & serial entrepreneur.
He has a Masters’ degree in Software Engineering and an MBA in Psychology and Leadership. He is known as the creator of We Are Podcast – the first Podcasting Conference in the Southern Hemisphere, and the host of The Bond Appetit Podcast and Should I Start a Podcast. He has an audience of over 3 million in 133 countries.