Last Tuesday I and three other classmates got the once of a lifetime chance to travel with Dan Cathy, President of Chick-fil-A, to Florida College were got to shadow him as he went about his days giving speeches on leadership and values, visiting with the students, and just being a humble servant. I felt a little intimidated as we arrived at the airport where we would be departing from as I would soon be meeting the President of, in my opinion, one of the most respected, distinguished, and delicious quick service restaurants in America. Though, as intimidated as I first felt, I soon found out Dan Cathy was not your typical billion dollar company president.
We started off our day flying in Chick-fil-A’s corporate jet (which was very nice) accompanied by a management consultant named Jay File (who was also extremely nice) and Mr. Cathy himself. My first hint at Mr. Cathy’s unique character was how when we first addressed him as Mr. Cathy we were jokingly reprimanded and ordered to address him and his companion as Dan and Jay. This changed my perspective of these two businessmen from high-class people who didn’t have the least bit interest of investing in us young people’s lives to people who actually cared and wanted to pour their selves into us. I felt like I now had the permission to be real with these guys because we had established a personal connection. This is A LOT of what the Cathy family and Chick-fil-A are about: establishing personal connections with people to make long lasting relationships. Throughout the day I saw Dan put others in front of himself and go the “second mile”. For example, in the cafeteria where he went to each table to gather people’s tray and take their leftovers to the trash, when he stopped to take pictures with a group of students from the college, or when he would stand and hold the door for everybody as they came through (letting each person know it was his pleasure). I could list off MANY more examples, but I think those do him justice.
As we flew back in the darkness of the jet, looking out at the bright, nighttime stars, I felt a very deep sense of appreciation for everyone and everything that helped get to where I am and experience everything I am so fortunate to undergo. Here it is only a little over two weeks into this amazing program and I have already experienced some amazing stuff and opportunities. The rest of my time at IMPACT 360 is a chance for growth in a positive direction, and I plan to take advantage of it. Dan Cathy and Jay File are two exemplary personifications of the values to which Chick-fil-A holds important. It is my pleasure to have spent the day with them, and to now call them my personal friends. Thank you Dan, Jay, Impact 360, and everyone else who made this incredible experience possible for me.
~ ~ Posted by Kyle Simmons | Class of 2010