I am jealous of Michael O’Leary. Very. The CEO of super-low-rent European discounter Ryanair, O’Leary has developed a reputation. He’s loud. He says what’s on his mind. He really doesn’t care what you think about him. He’s probably broken every rule of public relations and investor relations. I’ve been with Gadling since December 2008, and O’Leary has been a great source of posts every step of the way.
So, he’s the CEO and he can say what he wants. This isn’t really how it works: most CEOs have plenty of people telling them what to say and when to shut up. This is why O’Leary has it made.
And now it’s time for my confession: five reasons I’m jealous of Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair:
1. He’s the CEO: hey, that means something to me. I wouldn’t mind being the top dog. O’Leary brings in a good living every year, and he gets to call the shots. The latter likely results from the fact that he does the former well.
2. He really does speak his mind: whether it’s demanding that the government tax someone else or coming to the defense of a stewardess moonlighting as a porn star, O’Leary has a position on everything. And, he’s more than happy to share it publicly. Of course, bloggers have fallen into his crosshairs a few times.
3. He’s a product development genius: how many CEOs have actually suggested bundling blowjobs with their products? Or, at the other end of the spectrum, how many have suggested that their customers pay for restroom access? If I could come up with stuff like that, my days at Gadling would be nothing more than a memory.
4. He’s old school: executives tend to reprimand or even fire employees. But banishment? That’s hard core. That’s where O’Leary truly shines. Of course, it starts with an O’Leary stunt, in which he suggests that copilots could be replaced with stewardesses. Well, a pilot offended by this notion suggested that O’Leary could be replaced with a ‘probationary cabin crew member currently earning €13,200 a year.’” Don’t tangle with the master: O’Leary shipped this pilot off to Lithuania! It’s not exactly Siberia, but it sure as hell isn’t the Portugal/Spain/Italy the pilot wanted. And, “Kaunas is considered Siberia for Ryanair pilots.”
5. He’s just that good: remember all those whining airline execs were complaining about their businesses during the global financial crisis? Well, O’Leary wasn’t one of them. He actually kept Ryanair profitable during that hellish period. And now, he doesn’t mind taking potshots at his competitors during his quarterly earnings calls!