Slow Down To Do More: “Have a strategy for life and work and stick to it” with Jeffrey Katz, CEO of Journera

Chaya Weiner
Nov 3 · 7 min read

People live demanding lives, so it is no secret that all of us will feel rushed or anxious at times. This can be due to demands at home or work, it’s partly driven by the pervasiveness of communications technologies which can flood us, and even by the outside environment and news of the day. What I have found to be helpful is having a well-defined view about my priorities in my work and in my life. By focusing my time and energy on those priorities, I actually feel better and much more productive. Essentially, I operate by having a strategy for life and work and I stick to it. Life becomes not a random rush of events, but the thrill of doing my best to pursue my strategy of life and work.

I had the pleasure to interview Jeffrey G. Katz. Jeffrey is the founder and CEO of Journera, the technology company that has developed the first software platform to create more seamless travel journeys. They are building an “experience management” platform for the travel industry based on the idea that the journey is the essence of all travel, and that by better connecting all the flights, cars, hotels, meals and experiences of your trip, they can make travel easier and more meaningful. They are backed by many of the biggest names in travel including American Airlines, United Airlines, Marriott Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Intercontinental Hotel Group, Hyatt Hotels and Boston Consulting Group. Prior to this, Jeffrey was co-founder, president and CEO of Orbitz Worldwide, president of SABRE’s Travel Information Network and CEO of Swissair.


Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always loved to travel, I’m a licensed commercial pilot, and I am also an engineer. I earned my bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, my master’s of science in engineering from Stanford and another master’s of science from MIT, where I began to focus on the economics and mathematics of transportation industries. As the airline industry was deregulating, I was swept into that business and I was able to combine my two passions — technology and travel — beginning with American Airlines. At American I began working my way up through many positions first with a role applying software/applied math to solve problems, then to finance, customer service, sales and ultimately was made president of one of AA’s division’s, SABRE, which was the largest reservation system used by travel agents around the world. As Europe started its own deregulation path, I was recruited to become CEO of Swissair and led that company for about four years as it navigated big competitive and regulatory changes. From there, I co-founded Orbitz, one of the largest online travel companies (now owned by Expedia) in the world. It’s been a long and winding road, but now, I have a shot at helping to revolutionize the world of travel again with Journera. Our mission is to elevate every traveler’s journey. It is an exciting time for me.

According to a 2006 report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed.” Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?

People live demanding lives, so it is no secret that all of us will feel rushed or anxious at times. This can be due to demands at home or work, it’s partly driven by the pervasiveness of communications technologies which can flood us, and even by the outside environment and news of the day. What I have found to be helpful is having a well-defined view about my priorities in my work and in my life. By focusing my time and energy on those priorities, I actually feel better and much more productive. Essentially, I operate by having a strategy for life and work and I stick to it. Life becomes not a random rush of events, but the thrill of doing my best to pursue my strategy of life and work.

Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?

Well, I’m not a physician or psychologist, but I do think people get stressed and are inattentive to their own health and well-being. I know of no good employer or team who wants a person to do this. In my view everyone must treat their own health and well-being as task #1. So, how does one do that and still “make a living,” or indeed advance to their fullest potential? My view is that you should have an approach to life that is thoughtful (very thoughtful) about what really matters — because not all of the stuff that we are drawn into matters, and not all of it may be good for us at work or outside of work. Simply put — do the few things that matter and do none of the things that don’t. By following this simple approach, it takes the pressure off, makes you more productive, less stressed, and in my opinion, healthier and happier. Easier said than done, I have found, but it’s an approach worth perfecting.

On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?

I have been known in my career as one of the “hard chargers,” never afraid to dive into big problems and work tirelessly (and to push others) to find solutions. But as I have matured in my career, I have become much more mindful of how I spend my time. For me, doing less or “slowing down” is really another way of saying doing the things with the highest priority and the most important potential outcomes. This thinking applies to how I focus my work time as well as my choices for my life outside of work.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

1. Understand yourself — stay within your own boundaries and stretch them where/when it is best for you.

2. Understand what is expected of you at work — and stretch this in ways where you can learn, fail, and grow. Often, and in good companies, your team, bosses and organization will help you thrive in this quest.

3. Learn to how to be great on a team. Learn how to stay off of poor performing teams and don’t work for lousy bosses. Lousy bosses are those where no one excels and few are promoted.

4. Be accountable first and foremost to yourself. This will help you be far better as a colleague on any team,

5. Have a strategy and stick to it. Be honest, respectful and do your best to be a great communicator.

6. Have fun and laugh as one of your highest priorities. If this isn’t working on your team, change teams.

How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?

Again, I’m no psychologist, but I would urge anyone to stay focused on your strategy and don’t fret over what you can’t control. It serves no purpose except to distract you and those around you from what you can control. I once had a colleague who in a super stressful moment said to me, “let’s have an espresso.” To this day I admire the mindful brilliance of this person’s ability to steer us back to something simple and joyful. From there we could tackle the huge problems confronting us that day.

Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?

Candidly, I think people should simply just not let the BS grind them. To me that means, breathe and stay on the tasks and opportunities that are right in front of you and not dwell on the past or what “might” lie in the future.

Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?

I like to do 1 on 1 walks with key colleagues — to grab a coffee, for example, something to change the scene and allow us have more focus and remove some of the formality.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices?

I’m not big on trendy books or podcasts about management or the psychology of life/performance. But I do love an odd assortment of podcasts (Fresh Air, Modern Love, Death, Sex and Money) that take me out of the work-mindset, and my reading list is diverse: Team of Rivals, Of Human Bondage, Educated, The Good Soldier. I find these learning moments and immersions super helpful.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“From trouble comes experience and from experience comes wisdom.” I read it in a fortune cookie (really) and I have always found it a useful parable to keep in mind.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I have been helping people throughout the world for almost three decades see their world through travel and doing it better and smarter. With all of the strife we see in the world, it is my hope that we can continue to enable great adventures and insights that bring the world closer together through travel. My movement? Seamless travel for all. Wouldn’t it be awesome if every time we traveled, it was a joyful, easy and positive experience? That’s why I’m still working and loving it.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Chaya Weiner

Written by

Director of branding & photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator, helping leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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