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QuikTrip's Chet Cadieux Champions Early Education

TULSA, Okla. — QuikTrip Corp. CEO Chet Cadieux is among a growing number of business leaders making the case that social and emotional skills are integral for success in life and in business, and that those skills are fostered in a person's development.

Cadieux is a member of Ready Nation, an affiliation to the Council for a Strong America that is made up of 2,000 business leaders. The council bills itself as a bipartisan group that is working to ensure the next generation of Americans is ready to be citizens, reported Tulsa World.

The executive is among those quoted in a recent report from Ready Nation about the importance of early education, and why working with others is important and how those habits are instilled in early life.

"I don't think that most people would argue that that’s important," he said. "They might argue around whether its important no matter what you're going to be when you grow up. And there are probably industries where it isn't as important. I haven't come across them."

According to Cadieux, the vast majority of QuikTrip's selection is screening for social emotional development. "There are people who don't play well with others. And they are generally not successful. They may be successful today or tomorrow. But in the long-run, they aren't successful, in my experience," he added.

In Cadieux's own experience, he can remember a time working in the stores and working a particular store for 24 hours straight because two people called out and he had to fill the time in. He equates people not showing up for work to a lack of impulse control, Tulsa World reported.

"Those who have it [impulse control] take it for granted right up until they see someone who doesn't have it, and then they think they're almost inhuman," the CEO said. "How could they do that? Well, it's because they don't have fully developed skills of playing well with others."

Cadieux attributes what people say about the next generation to a lack of memory. "My experience is that the prior generation always thinks that the next generation is worthless. It's not about that generation being worthless. It's about us having a very short memory of what we were like at that age. Seriously," he said.

Regardless of generation, Cadieux said, the research from Ready Nation is conclusive: these skills take root through early education.

"[At] QuikTrip, we've been able to hire the people we need. But I see an awful lot of people who we wouldn't pick, and you worry if they're going to be able to find good employment," he stated. "Imagine how successful we could be if 20 percent of the applicants passed instead of 1 percent. How many stores could we have? How many states could we be in? Then you back up and say, 'We're fine. We're growing as fast as we need to anyway.'"

According to the news outlet, Cadieux thinks Tulsa is not a small place, but it's not large enough for people to not know each other. His interest was piqued by Tulsa businessman BOK Financial Chairman George Kaiser, who is an advocate for early education and its ability to foster a healthy work ethic.

"In this particular case, the person who started filling up my inbox with the research that he had come across was George Kaiser," Cadieux said. "He convinced me pre-K education was important. The earlier the better... . Those formative years are really important."

Tulsa-based QuikTrip operates more than 700 convenience stores in 11 states.

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