During a recent interview with Don Yaeger, contributing editor at Chief Executive, Dan Cathy, Chairman of Chick-fil-A, discusses leadership. The son of Chick-fil-A’s founder, Cathy spent a great portion of his life refining and expanding upon his father’s vision. He shares with Yaeger nostalgic memories of the Dwarf House, as Chick-fil-A was originally known. [i]
Cathy shares that although he developed work ethic working as a teen at the Dwarf House, he is no stranger to learning hard lessons. Cathy shares that he held an undefeated wrestling season his junior year until the final tournament. [ii]
Losing in the first round after entering with a lot of ‘ego’’ caused Cathy to reflect on his attitude. After that, he says he returned "with a respectful attitude toward [his] competition" and went on to win the state championship the following year at 119 pounds in 1971. Cathy had a 40-4 record his last two years and later wrestled for Furman University.
Cathy says it was a lesson on striving for excellence that he carries with him today and shares with Chick-fil-A’s team members. He says,
If we’re going to be excellent at what we do, we have to be all in. There’s an exhilaration and joy when you know you did your absolute best. [iv]
He continued by detailing the view of his business, expressing that,
We’re here to help restore people’s lives. They’re in difficult circumstances. They’ve got challenges going on at home, challenges going on at school, challenges going on at work. But then they come through that Chick-fil-A drive-through or walk in our restaurant; we have an opportunity to give them a word of encouragement and positive affirmation. [v]
Cathy addressed the restaurant’s continued success attributing it to being “very grounded in our corporate purpose…that we’re here to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that’s entrusted to us and have a positive influence on all who came in contact with Chick-fil-A.” Cathy contends that overall, the ultimate goal is to impact people’s lives through its dedication to its continuously evolving service standards. [vi]
Watch Cathy below as he shares his view on leaving an inheritance for your children's children.
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[i] Don Yaeger, Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy on Exceeding Customer Expectations (Jan. 2023)
[ii] Don Yaeger, Chick-Fil-A Chairman Dan Cathy Recalls His Greatest Moment Not Involving A Chicken Sandwich (Sep. 14, 2022)
[iii] National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Dan Cathy (2023)
[iv] Don Yaeger, Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy on Exceeding Customer Expectations (Jan. 2023)
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