Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Walk the Walk" Watch: Laura Chenel

Even though my new book, Walk the Walk: The #1 Rule for Real Leaders, won't be published until September 17th, it's too late for me to add new material: the text is already edited and the advance copies ("galleys") have been printed and we've received endorsements (for the back cover) from some truly remarkable people. So of course I've been discovering even more examples of leaders who actually "walk the walk" and would have fit perfectly for the book.

One of those leaders is Laura Chenel, a pioneer in the delicious revolution in American food, who back in 1979 became the first person in the U.S. to make a real business out of producing goat cheese. I've enjoyed her cheese for the past two decades, but it was only recently that I understood why it was so good. I found a New York Times profile of Chenel (published October 18, 2006) that talked about how much love and attention she gives to her five hundred goats in Sonoma, California. She names every goat. She gets to know the goats so well that her business and life partner, John Van Dyke, said: "I know right where I stand. I am number 503, after her 500 goats and her two cats."

Now that's passion and commitment! The Times story was about Chenel, at age 57, selling her cheese business to a French company. But she would keep her 500 named goats and supply the new owners with the milk for the superb cheese that bears her own name, Laura Chenel Chevre.

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