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Guest Feature

NRF Protect 2018 Recap

When Fate Finds Favor: A Tale of Triumph

June 15, 2018:

By David George, Managing Partner - Calibration Group, LLC

Loss Prevention and Asset Protection (LP/AP) professionals descended on Dallas this week for NRF Protect, the National Retail Federation’s annual conference dedicated to providing educational and networking opportunities to those of us in the business of protecting people, assets and brands for the retail industry. While traveling to the conference, I found myself reflecting upon the LP/AP profession and how most of the issues the industry deals with are negative in nature. When the phone rings, it’s never the CEO calling to ask you if you want to hang out after work or come over to his or her house on Saturday for a cookout. The core of the LP/AP profession doesn’t lend itself to cheerful dilemmas with celebratory outcomes. The mobile phones carried by LP/AP professionals are sometimes seen as mere devices for delivering tragic news

such as a robbery, serious injury, lawsuit, homicide, or some other serious brand-damaging event. Yet every one of those incidents is the result of smaller, random events coming together in an undesirable fashion.

Unfortunately for those of you who were unable to attend this year’s NRF Protect, you missed an opportunity to hear about one of the rare times in which smaller, random events actually came together to save lives. NRF Protect found a way to secure Captain Tammie Jo Shults as their keynote speaker after their originally scheduled keynote, Marvin Ellison, was unable to attend. Captain Shults is the Southwest pilot who safely landed flight 1380 after one of its engines exploded in mid-flight, resulting in the death of one passenger. Although the loss of 43-year-old passenger Jennifer Riordan is stunningly tragic, there are countless smaller, random events that occurred prior to this flight that saved 148 lives. This story is too complex to effectively communicate in this article. Therefore, there is only one small, random event that took place the morning of April 17 on which this article will focus.

During Captain Shults’ NRF presentation entitled, Leading in Uncertain Times, she revealed that her husband, who is also a pilot for Southwest airlines, was originally assigned as Captain of flight 1380. However, she had decided to trade routes with him. This fact, in and of itself, is spectacular. But this isn’t the most interesting fact in this story. Captain Tammie Jo Shults revealed in her NRF presentation that an aviation university recreated the conditions of that flight using a simulator, and their pilots were unable to land the virtual plane without utilizing the onboard automation program. Captain Shults and her co-pilot landed that plane without the use of the automation program that was onboard flight 1380. This means that it is unlikely any other pilot, perhaps even Captain Shults’ husband, would have been able to land the crippled plane.

As her presentation concluded, I was taken aback by another important fact. Captain Tammie Jo Shults knows she couldn’t have achieved this epic landing without her crew. She made that clear. She also stated that she and her crew met weekly after this incident so she could ensure they were all doing well.

All too often as LP/AP professionals, we move from solving one problem to the next without taking the time to analyze the smaller, random events that lead not only to the problems themselves, but to their resolutions. We’ve all dealt with so many negative situations that remaining calm isn’t quite as difficult as it must have been for Captain Shults during her crisis. But perhaps one of the many takeaways from this years’ NRF Protect is for all of us to slow down and reflect upon those seemingly small random events throughout our day. Doing so will not only help us prevent negative incidents from occurring, but they will also help us to better identify and show gratitude to those co-workers and support staff who work hard for us every day by helping us achieve extraordinary results. As Roberto Benigni once said, "It's a sign of mediocrity when you demonstrate gratitude with moderation."


Thank you, Captain Tammie Jo Shults, for taking the time to share your incredible story at this year’s NRF Protect. Your story is sure to help many of us in our attempts at Leading in Uncertain Times.


David E. George, CFE, CFI, is managing partner of Calibration Group, LLC. Previously, David served as vice president over Asset Protection for Dollar General Stores, a Fortune 100 company with more than 13,000 stores in 44 states. While serving Dollar General, David was responsible for the Asset Protection field team, the Asset Protection corporate team, the Shrink Improvement team, and the Shrink Analytics team.  David also worked in tandem with Dollar General’s Inventory Management team to improve stock-on-hand while simultaneously reducing stockroom inventory.

Prior to Dollar General, David held the vice president of Asset Protection position with Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Inc., a Fortune 500 company based in Matthews, NC. He served Harris Teeter for more than 14 years and has had previous loss prevention leadership roles with Kmart Supercenters.

For more information about Calibration Group, visit

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