What I learned from QuikTrip CEO Chet Cadieux’s lecture

On January 29th, Chet Cadieux, CEO of QuikTrip, came to the University of Kansas for the public lecture series provided by the School of Business.  I saw posters for this event every time I went to Summerfield Hall for business classes and decided I would go and check it out. I mean, think about it: you would agree that seeing the CEO of a well-known company about 10 feet away from you is pretty amazing. But not just seeing, actually learning from his lecture. That’s even better. (It was free, too. Yeah I know, right?)

His lecture was called “QuikTrip: A Values Based Business” and most of the lecture he explained how QuikTrip values its employees first than anything else. He also added that QuikTrip focuses mainly on two things: employers and locations of the store. Since what QuikTrip is doing isn’t rocket science, he mentioned that it’s just really hard work with people who can follow their beliefs.  QuikTrip has five main beliefs that motivates employers which I thought would actually work for college students, too:

1. Be the best

Cadieux mentioned that he and the QuikTrip employees all want to be the best. “If we can’t be best, we won’t play,” he said. Personally, I feel the same as he does about working hard to be the best. It’s the effort that counts. I think it is important to try hard academically, with work and campus involvement because we are open to such amazing opportunities. Learning what we love to do, meeting new people and having fun! That’s what college is about.

2. Never be satisfied

Cadieux talked about the possibility of competitors knocking them off if QuikTrip is not scared every day. He added that it’s the reason why QuikTrip is always renovating the stores around the nation. Well, that might sound quite intimidating, but think about it this way: when you are taking a class, whatever class it is, you can’t really loosen up until the semester is over. If you start skipping classes after the first exam that you got an A on, you are probably not going to finish the semester with a good grade in that class. Even if you are doing great in class, you need to look for opportunities to be better and actually learn new things. Your willingness to be a better student will ensure that you are never satisfied until you've finished.

3. Focus on long term

I think we can all relate to this. We learn, experience, meet people, and have fun in college. For what? Getting a job, going to grad school or professional school and lots of other reasons. All the things we are doing in college are to prepare us in the real world after we graduate. This point also applies for the classes that you are taking now. If you have comprehensive final exam, you need to make sure to really understand what’s going on throughout the semester. You need to review stuff from last class, go over quizzes, and visit professors during office hours. You can’t just remember everything from day one until the last day of class right there, you know?

4. Do what’s right for you

Cadieux said that it is really important to be successful as a team not just as an individual. He said that having a right job for you so that you can work as a team player is the key. Working as a team is also important in college. From group projects in classes to getting involved in school activities, you will meet people you have never met and have to work with them. We all know it’s hard to get through anything with someone in your group not doing anything or trying to overtake everything for your project.

5. Do the right thing

Cadieux says it’s more than just morals or ethics. He said to ask yourself “what would your mother think about what you did today?” Well, some of you would say that we are all adults and independent. It’s not about literal meanings here. We all have those moments where we need to decide between the right thing and the thing we want to do. Of course, we also know that we have to do the right thing. Some people struggle with that, and I know it’s hard but try your best to overcome that temptations. Take on a new hobby, listen to music, travel or find something else so that you can really focus on doing the right thing.

Going to this lecture was probably one of the best decisions I've made this semester so far. It was cool seeing the CEO of QuikTrip and listening to him talk about his company. I went in thinking that it would be a better fit for seniors who are about to graduate or other people who are actually in business, but I was wrong. I enjoyed the full hour and a half of listening to him talk and people asking questions. It was such a great opportunity and I would definitely start going to more of these events. I would also recommend all of you guys to go take a look at the School of Business website to learn more about lecture series they are providing!