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What my 95-year-old dad taught me this past holiday season…

My dad has always been someone I’ve admired for his knack for building relationships and his strong work ethic. When I was younger, he and my mom would often take my brothers and me along on their business trips. While he didn’t always strike the perfect work-life balance, he made efforts to include us in company outings, client dinners, and Sunday BBQs. Now, at 95 years young (soon to be 96), this past holiday season marked the first time he felt uncomfortable traveling alone.

Could he have managed it alone? Probably. But I saw this as an opportunity to fly to Phoenix, pick him up, and journey back to San Diego together for a week over Christmas. As his youngest, I embraced this responsibility, seeing it as a chance to not only support him but also to strive for a better work-life balance myself, to cherish the present moment, and to prioritize family time.

Interestingly, I found parallels between this personal journey with my dad and executing an effective marketing campaign. It began with thorough preparation, similar to the groundwork needed before launching any marketing initiative. Just as one would pack a backpack for a journey to anticipate any unforeseen challenges, I ensured we were well-prepared for our trip. We packed his suitcase a day prior, allowing ample time for any last-minute adjustments. Process played a crucial role—much like the onboarding process in marketing. I familiarized myself with the steps, from dropping off luggage to reserving a wheelchair and ensuring a smooth journey to the gate.

As we stood at the Southwest Sky Cab, I couldn’t help but draw a comparison to nurturing customer relationships. Taking care of those who support you is paramount, and the seamless experience provided by our sky cab attendant exemplified exceptional customer service.

The security check presented another analogy: the need for flexibility. Just as we must adapt to unexpected changes during travel, marketing campaigns also require agility and the willingness to pivot when necessary.

I thought the parallels would end once we boarded the plane, but as I glanced up and saw the Southwest Airlines logo with its iconic heart symbol, it dawned on me: our entire journey was intertwined with the Southwest Airlines brand. Our experience had come full circle, illustrating the power of cohesive branding and customer experience. However, what truly solidified this as a remarkable branded marketing and customer experience was my dad’s simple yet profound words as we awaited our driver: “Well, Shannon, that was fun!” In that moment, we were both fully present, living in the moment—a testament to the true value of any journey, personal or professional.