On a recent red-eye flight on United an interesting incident transpired that inspired me to write the blog. No – I was not dragged out kicking and screaming from the flight – while curious onlookers were FB streaming live. Rather it was an announcement that Captain Jason Lopez – the operating commander of the aircraft – made that had me sitting up, taking notice and furiously taking notes. What did he say that was so mind-blowing? 3 things. But before going there, the very act of coming outside the captain’s cabin, getting on the PA system and facing the passengers was eyebrow raising to begin with. Then he went onto

1. Praise your peers and acknowledge their contributions: He called out by name every member of the cabin crew and then went on to explain how they had the same number of hours of training as the pilots albeit in the field of safety, security and first-aid. And he mentioned that on average they had 2 flights a year where they saved a life. When was the last time you had a captain that stand up and sing praises of his cabin crew? But wait there is more.

2. Empathize with your customers: He then followed this with “I know all of you must be tired after a hard day, and going through the snake line at security before a red-eye can be very taxing. I just want you to know that the security while may be inconveniencing is for all of you, it helps us ensure our collective safety and appreciate your help in braving through that. But now all of you are here and in your seats – relax”

3. Thank & delight your customers like you mean it: He went on “Some of you may be going home to Philly while others may be just starting your journey. Either way, I want to personally assure all of you that it is my aim to make sure that this flight is the highlight of your entire business trip or vacation”. #SayWhat! That had me (and a lot of passengers) wide eyed and awake at midnight. And finally rounding it off with “I want to thank you for giving me and the crew an opportunity to be the best that we can be. Will talk to you in Philly, have a comfortable and quiet night”.

Now airlines get a bad rap – even the best of them – recall United, American and more recently Southwest getting into hot water with handling passengers like baggage! But there are also shining examples like Captain. Jason Lopez who raise the customer service bar so high, that I want to experience ‘Flying the Friendly Skies’ repeatedly. #RespectCaptain and way to go #United.



    Empathy, Education, Empowerment

    Mine is a typical Indian immigrant story: an Engineer who became an Engineering Manager, who grew antsy and segued into Product Management then rose to VP and SVP. During those years I fancied I was innovating and experimenting, but in reality I was wearing a corporate straitjacket. Constrained by my industry’s insular mindset, I became a slave to the definition of my job. Inevitably, I ended up dissatisfied. So, I did something unusual for a man in my position: I stopped to reflect. I searched my life and talents for what was fulfilling and had purpose. I discovered I enjoyed storytelling to promote understanding. I loved mentoring and helping people become the best version of themselves. Importantly, I realized I was still passionate about the tech industry, particularly the issues surrounding privacy and ethics. Today, I’m pursuing my passions. I like to think of myself as an accelerator of technology and positivity. I’m the COO of UberKnowledge, bringing cybersecurity awareness and training to demographics that are underrepresented in the industry. I speak at conferences highlighting the need for a sharper focus on the ethics surrounding the technology industry.  I write articles and blog posts using analogy to simplify technology trends and complex topics like AI and IoT. I host podcasts with CISOs and other industry experts. The purpose of these is not to sell snake oil or products but to bridge the chasm between security vendors and customers so that the real problems can be solved to make the world a safer place. Underpinning all of these efforts is my belief that life’s purpose for us all is simply to connect. And the best way to do that is through generous and positive gestures.