Memory Of The Month: An Attitude Of Gratitude

Each month, we share an image from GEICO’s past and invite you to comment or exercise your caption-writing skills.

Jack Byrne GEICO CEO serving foodChow time! In this mid-1980s photo, the fellow smiling broadly in the general direction of the camera is Jack Byrne, GEICO’s CEO from 1976 until 1985. One of Byrne’s favorite motivational tactics was to make wagers with his regional vice presidents. If the region bested an agreed-upon level of performance, Byrne would visit and help serve lunch to the victorious associates.

To Byrne’s left in this photo is Bob Belford, who was then vice president of GEICO’s West Coast region, headquartered in San Diego. I’ve no idea what the terms of the wager were, but Byrne clearly enjoyed fulfilling his end of the bargain, and I have no doubt that Belford’s crew was thankful for the victory. It was quite literally a “winner, winner, chicken dinner” situation.

And speaking of being thankful (it’s that time of year, after all), I’m thankful for the year-and-a-half at the beginning of my GEICO career that overlapped Byrne’s tenure as CEO. He was a charismatic leader; a larger-than-life sort who established a culture of fun at GEICO that endures to this day. But he was also quite serious about the insurance business, and the operating principles he put in place (having to do with cost control, sage investing, effective underwriting and accounting discipline) remain a solid foundation for us.

How about you? What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Tell us in the comments below.

Next article: Memory Of The Month (December)

By Greg Marsh

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