Born in Brazil and raised in Utah, David Neeleman is an entrepreneur who has founded or co-founded five commercial airlines: Morris Air, WestJet, JetBlue, Azul Brazilian Airlines and TAP Air Portugal. Morris Air was acquired by Southwest Air in 1993. David served a mission in Brazil as a young adult and speaks Portuguese. He and his wife have ten children, including one they adopted in recent years. The Neelemans have 18 grandchildren. David was featured in The Mormon Way of Doing Business and in Flying High.

Episode Highlights

1:00: Undistinguished academic background in high school and University of Utah. Has ADD. Served LDS mission during period of explosive church growth in Brazil in the late 1970’s. Sold Morris Air to Southwest when he was 33 years of age. Wanted to remain passionately involved in something of value and not simply be an investor. Highlights of his involvement with the airlines referenced above.
5:40: Impact of serving a mission and the necessity of faith combined with works. Witnessed the area of Brazil where he served grow from five branches to five stakes in a very short time.
7:18: Father of a large family. Advice he gives his kids as they go to serve missions: lose yourself, don’t think about home excessively and love the people.
9:20: Missionary success began to shape his life. Invented e-ticket travel and in-home reservations by people who are working from home. Is wired to see things differently and attempt what no one else has done before without being discouraged by naysayers. Being entrepreneurial requires making sacrifices.
12:48: ADD discussed, including the fact that children in same family can be very different from one another. Proper encouragement is needed. Some great business leaders have suffered from ADD. Street wisdom about A, B, C and D students.
15:58: How the egalitarian structure of the Church has affected his business approach to dealing with employees and providing customer service. His thoughts about executive lunch rooms and parking spaces. Impact of satisfied employees on customer base. Discussion about pleasing employees vs shareholders.
21:00: Establishing a healthy culture by leadership style in Church organizations. Helping people feel fulfilled and loved, not guilty. Prayerful thought is required.
22:40: Establishing and leading by values. JetBlue’s values. Breaking the china when necessary.
25:45: Serving as ward mission leader for about eight years in New Cambridge, CT.
26:25: More on vision and values—what would Jesus do in setting the tone in Church organizations. Church service a respite from the “belly of the beast” all week long. Keeping values at the forefront.
29:00: Making time for family, not golf. LDS leavening influenced is needed in the world. People respond to leadership that is inspired by gospel principles even if it’s not presented as such.
33:00: David’s preferences for books, especially books about world progress and development more than books about leadership. Some favorites, other than religious, are: Outliers, David and Goliath, Tipping Point, Accidental Superpower and books about founding fathers of the U.S.A.
35:20: Founding the More Good Foundation. Helping maintain a positive image for the Church. Buying URL’s so that people on search engines have positive encounters online regarding the Church.
41:22: Being a better follower of Christ by learning to know Him and gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. Don’t get caught up in the “noise.” The Lord needs LDS people to lead in society and business.


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