Southwest Airlines


Case: Create a Magazine that Reflects Southwest Airline’s Unique Character

Solution: A “flippable” format centered by an inspiring narrative.


In 2007, Southwest put out a request for proposals, offering Pace Communications a chance to bid on the magazine for America’s largest domestic airline. Pace asked me to lead the editorial pitch that would beat stiff competition from major publishers. Working with Pentagram partner DJ Stout, we designed, wrote, and printed an entire issue to present to airline executives. The design emphasized single pages with strong original graphics and short copy, along with a package-heavy feature well. Balanced against these short, airplane-friendly reads was a narrative of extraordinary length: 4,000 words. I recruited a staff to fill a new office in Dallas, where the airline is based, and the editors have been following the original editorial principles ever since. The narratives have received national attention, and have helped boost readership by 2 million to its current 5.3 million monthly readers. One of the narratives I assigned, a story about a murder, two men who forgave each other, and a national organization based on forgiveness, became an award-winning book, Megan Feldman’s Triumph of the Heart



Click on the links to see summaries of the work.

Bass Hotels

Brown University

Dartmouth College

Kaiser Permanente

Middlebury College



Southwest Airlines

Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies

University of Pennsylvania


Wharton School of Business

York College

Presentations and Workshops

Beachbody: Keynote presentation for fitness coaches in Dana Point, California.

CUE: Keynote presentation in New Orleans for HR professionals on "How to Screw Up."

Dartmouth College: Presentation on framing strategies for all of the university's advancement professionals.

Department of Defense: Persuasion workshop in Washington, DC, for MILVAX, the global agency responsible for vaccinating military personnel. Another persuasion workshop in San Antonio for Air Force JAG officers.

European Speechwriters Association: Two-day workshop and presentation in Berlin, Germany.

Hampden Sydney College: Campus-wide lecture on the need for rhetoric, in Hamden Sydney, Virginia. 

Harvard University: Presentation and workshop for Arts & Sciences advancement professionals.

Lane Press: Keynote presentation in Vermont for editors and designers of magazines. 

Lewis & Clark College: Campus-wide lecture in Portland, Oregon, on "The New Trivium," or why the liberal arts are a good personal investment.

Mindshare: Workshop in Bali, Indonesia, for advertisers, marketers, and media buyers.

NASA: Two separate workshops teaching rhetoric to space engineers and administrators at the Langley Research Center, Virginia.

National Association of Realtors: Keynote presentation in Reno, Nevada, for California realtors.

Ogilvy UK: Workshop for advertising creatives in London, England.

Prepaid Expo: Keynote presentation in Orlando for 2,000 finance executives.

Southwest Airlines: Presentation on "How to Screw Up" to the airline's marketing executives in Nashville.

University of Tampa: Presentation to rhetoric students.