Kelleher feels strongly about his two primary constituencies—employees and customers. In correspondence (at least with this author), Kelleher uses a capital C and a capital E when writing about Customers and Employees. This CEO is serious about putting these two groups in a class by themselves.
To Kelleher, culture means taking care of the people that the business depends on every day:
I think that even very hardheaded "managers" (we don't like the "manager" word) might be influenced to focus more on the importance of "culture" if they understood that fun, enthusiasm for the job, and concern for the well-being of each other were not only the key to joyful productivity and pride, but also the intangible quality that is most difficult for a competitor to emulate successfully.
When asked if he feels that the issue of culture is often overlooked in times of stress—for example, in the heat of a merger or acquisition—Kelleher responded with a resounding yes. He asserted that cultural issues are often subordinated when the pressure is on. And this, he emphasized, is a critical mistake, because many mergers that fail hit the rocks because of a clash of cultures:
Culture clash contributes to many of the failures of such combinations, and their incompatible cultures produce internal tribal warfare.