“A good education is about more than academics – it’s also about learning values and principles,”says Ken Chenault, Chairman and CEO of American Express Company.
“My teacher, Lee Lecraw, set high standards. She taught her students about being responsible. She taught us the importance of integrity. Though thoroughly demanding, she also had a special gift for making learning fun.
“Lee was my teacher for several years when I was growing up, and I am blessed to call her a mentor and friend to this day.”
From kindergarten through 12th grade, Kenneth Chenault attended the Waldorf School of Garden City, N.Y. How does he view his Waldorf education today:
”My parents were looking for a school that would nurture the whole person. They also felt that the Waldorf school would be a far more open environment for African Americans, and that was focused on educating students with values, as well as the academic tools necessary to be constructive and contributing human beings. …
I think the end result of Waldorf education is to raise our consciousness. There is a heightened consciousness of what our senses bring us from the world around us, about our feelings, about the way we relate to other people. It taught me how to think for myself, to be responsible for my decisions. Second, it made me a good listener, sensitive to the needs of others. And third, it helped establish meaningful beliefs. In all the Main Block lessons — in history, science, philosophy — we really probed the importance of values and beliefs. In dealing with a lot of complex issues and a lot of stress, if that isn’t balanced by a core of meaningful beliefs, you really will just be consumed and fail.”
How do others view him?
An elegant, quietly charismatic man of even temper and unrelenting drive, Chenault tends to inspire his admirers to extravagant praise. ”Ken radiates such a depth of belief that people would do anything for him,” says Rochelle Lazarus, chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide Inc., AmEx’ lead advertising agency. ”He is a true leader.” Adds Amy DiGeso, a former AmEx executive who is chief executive of Mary Kay Inc.: ”I can say unequivocally that I admire Ken more than anyone else I’ve ever worked with. I think he will be our generation’s Jack Welch.”
(Business Week 1998, Ken Chenault: The Rise of a Star)
More sources on Kenneth Chenault.