On the morning of September 11, 2001, Ken Chenault, CEO of American Express, faced the shocking destruction of the World Trade Center and the damage to American Express's corporate headquarters in New York City, chronicled in Chapter 1. Meanwhile, Chuck was beginning a typical workday 1,000 miles to the west. He had stopped by a local Detroit bakery to pick up breakfast before heading to the airport on his way to an American Express leadership conference in Florida. As Chuck got to the bakery door, a customer tightly gripping his coffee cup held the door open for Chuck.
“Have you seen what just happened?” the man asked, shock on his face and agitation in his voice.
“No,” Chuck responded, taken aback by how emotional the man seemed. Chuck also momentarily wondered, “Why is this stranger talking to me?”
“An airplane just hit the World Trade Center,” the distraught fellow customer said.
Stunned and trying to process the meaning of what he had just heard, Chuck looked up at the TV on the shop wall to see the replay of a full‐sized jetliner flying into a massive high‐rise building. Then Chuck understood the magnitude of what his fellow customer had just described. As Chuck would soon discover, in addition to the complete devastation of the World Trade Center's North and South Towers, his company's headquarters, adjacent to the World Trade Center, was severely damaged by the most destructive terrorist attack in U.S. history. Soon, Chuck would also learn ...