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Kofi Smith executive director of Atlanta Airlines Terminal Corp

2014 Honeywell Users Group: Lessons in Becoming a ‘Game Changer’

June 9, 2014
Kofi Smith, executive director of Atlanta Airlines Terminal Corp., shared pages from the “playbook of success.”

During the 2014 Honeywell Users Group (HUG) in Scottsdale, Ariz., this morning, Kofi Smith, executive director of Atlanta Airlines Terminal Corp., the organization responsible for operations and maintenance at the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, shared pages from the “playbook of success.”

“We all know in the world of sports, anytime a game is being played, you have three individuals: You have those people that are playing the game, you have those individuals that are watching the game, and then you have those people—they don’t even know the game is being played,” Smith, who played football at Georgia Tech, said. “As a leader, I like to hire, I like to promote, I like to partner with those individuals that are not only playing the game, but can change the game.”

Smith went on to share three ways to become a “game changer”:

Become a hunter. “In the modern-day organizational caste system, you have three different people: You have hunters, you have skinners, and you have diners,” Smith said. “Now, hunters, they go out with their spears, they kill, and bring the meat back either to the tribe or to the organization. Skinners—they prepare the meat. They dole it out, they can store it, they can trade it. And diners—they just take part in the meat because they have other significant roles in the tribe.”

Be disciplined. Quoting Jim Collins, author of the book “Great by Choice,” Smith defined discipline as “consistency of action.”

“You want to be unbending in your focus, monomaniacal, relentless in your pursuit of whatever your goal may be,” Smith said.

Have a healthy attitude toward risk. “You do not want to play it safe,” Smith said. “Playing it safe can be a career risk in itself. Take risks, but take calculated risks. You want to have a risk filter because the smallest risk can be a game changer, career maker, or a career breaker.”

About the Author

Scott Arnold | Executive Editor

Described by a colleague as "a cyborg ... requir(ing) virtually no sleep, no time off, and bland nourishment that can be consumed while at his desk" who was sent "back from the future not to terminate anyone, but with the prime directive 'to edit dry technical copy' in order to save the world at a later date," Scott Arnold joined the editorial staff of HPAC Engineering in 1999. Prior to that, he worked as an editor for daily newspapers and a specialty-publications company. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.