Donald Kjelleren, NU '54, Oral History Interview
Interviewed on October 5, 2013
At Sullivan Museum and History Center
Interviewed by Jennifer Payne
JENNFER PAYNE: Welcome and thank you.
DONALD KJELLEREN: Well, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure.
JP: It's a thrill, really. So, where are you from Don?
DK: I was born and raised in Baldwin, Long Island, New York, flatlander.
JP: And when were you born?
DK: I was born in 1933, which makes me 80 years old.
JP: Well, you don't look it.
DK: Well, thank you. (Laughs).
JP: How did you get to Norwich?
DK: Well, that's probably an interesting story that had a reality check to it, Imight say. We had two family friends that lived in our neighborhood in Long Island, Bert Simpson and Al Nelson. Bert was the Class of '29 and the other gentleman was the class of '28. And both of them were in high positions in the telephone company. Now, people today probably don't remember AT&T, but that was a big powerhouse company in this country, and I was very impressed that they had these important jobs, executive vice presidents and they said, "Why don't you go to Norwich?" and I figured, gee whiz, if you go to Norwich and you can end up with a career like that, that must be a good place to go. The corollary to that is that turned out true for me because I ended up with a very nice career and a wonderful job, and a wonderful experience in my working career. So, that proved to be, I made the right choice. (chuckles)
JP: Did you have a nickname when you were here?
DK: I sure did -- I was called "KJ."
JP: That's not in the yearbook.
DK: Well, if you look in the yearbook, that's, I think that's there and --
JP: Oh, is it?
DK: Yes, and that's because nobody could pronounce it, it's probably one -- it'sa Swedish extract, and it's probably one of the rarest names in the world. We've never been able to trace anybody other than our immediate family anywhere in the world. We've gone to Sweden and checked there and everywhere else so, it was unique but easy to pronounce, hard to spell. So, the kids all call me 'KJ." Nobody has since though.
JP: It looks like "KF" but it's the font. It looks like, but obviously it's "KJ"now that I think about it.
JP: Oh my gosh. So you grew up in Baldwin, and --
JP: And then came to Norwich.
JP: What was it like when you came to Norwich?
DK: Well, I first came here I -- to look at the campus, and the community in1948. And 1948 Vermont was a poverty ridden state. This was a very, very poor state. And with campus obviously, it didn't look anything like it looks today. Things were old, and it was not a very beautiful place as it is today. Now, I enjoy mountains and I always wanted to ski, and I always wanted to mountain climb. I was an eagle scout and very active in boy scouts and I thought well, this might be a kind of an old, somewhat poverty-ish (sic) community here, but boy, it has all the things I'm interested in and so I was impressed as far as coming here.
JP: Once you came here, you got busy.
DK: (Laughs) Well, I, I've been busy all my life and, I, part of my philosophyis to be active and you're, you're, you're right, I was involved in a lot of things while I was here at Norwich.
JP: I'm going to read what your profile says, it says "activity has been a biteword (?) [00:04:31] with KJ for the last four years. There is the abbreviation of "his various extracurricular endeavors have carried him to all departments and in each he has been successful. The boys at Sig Nu are losing a top man in their athletic program and one of the best liked brothers from "Brick House." What does that mean?
DK: I was shocked when I read that (Laughs) They were very nice to me, but it'strue I -- about activities -- and I believe in doing everything with quality and -- I guess I'll just tell this little story I teased you about a few minutes ago. My academics ranged -- I was a chem major -- and that meant that you have to have something between your ears, but I didn't have much between my ears as far as taking the English course. And I -- you asked the questions in here what courses I liked the least and that was calculus, it wasn't English, but it probably should have been English.
But anyway, as an athlete and I'm still an athlete. I just won four medals atthe senior Olympics in Cleveland this summer in bicycling, I'm a bicyclist and I have learned that you work on your weaknesses in order to improve. So, apparently, I didn't have that awareness when I was at Norwich, but I must have been practicing it anyway. And my weakness has always been English. My spelling has never been very good -- thank goodness there are computers with spellcheck, and so, when I trained for bicycling, that anybody that's a cyclist would know that if you can't sprint very well you've got to practice sprinting. If you don't climb hills very well, you've got to practice hills and so forth. You've got to have speed to do time trials. You work on your weaknesses.
Well, having that philosophy and having a list of things I wanted to do in mylife, one of which was to write a book. And if I can write a book, I must be able to improve my English. And so, I've done a huge amount of writing but I've only written two books though, so far. I've written a manual, an 80-page manual on biking, for example, which most people that cycle, they don't know why they shift. But this book tells you why and how you corner and how you sit on your seat and put your hands on the handle and all that sort of things. Course (sic) I know all that stuff so it's easy to write a book about that. But, I've written many, many newsletters and publications and all that because English was my weakness and I wanted to improve my English.
The book I wrote is, Happiness: The Road to Well-being, and we can talk aboutthat a little bit later.
JP: You have it with you --
DK: Yes, so that's kind of my little thing. When you said you're a journalismmajor and you'd had some problems there, I did too (laughs) but I found way to improve, not that I'm that much better but at least I've done it (chuckles) -- I have one philosophy in life that I think that I practiced at Norwich, and when you said that the article essay, everything with quality did it really well, I feel, and I've told people over and over again that all limitations are self-imposed. People can do anything that their dreams wish them to do. And, people say -- no, no, no -- I say well, you know, there are skiers that are blind. There are skiers who don't have legs. There are people with all kinds of problems with their physical being, mental being, and other things that still, when they want to, and have the dream, and recognize that the fact that they're not doing it is self-imposed, that you can do anything.
So, I've never feared talking to presidents of companies, never feared doinganything that I wanted to do, on the basis of first it's going to be quality and second of all, if I didn't do that, I'm imposing a limitation on myself. I'm the loser in that.
So, I won the marketing excellence award at DuPont as being the top marketingperson in the corporation. And this is in the days when DuPont was really a big 12th largest company in country. That was pretty exciting. And, one of the things that they put in the write-up was my philosophy of all limitations are self-imposed. And, I -- they gave me examples of the things that I did, because I believed in that philosophy.
I opened up China, for example, to the corporation in 1977, right after thecultural revolution. And did many, many, many things in my career based on the fact that you have a dream, you want to do it, it's honest, it's legal, it's not fattening, (laughs), as they say and I would just go and do those things. So that, my lifestyle has always been involvement and doing it well and making sure that it benefits others.
JP: Wow. Do you want to talk about your career, your business life, a little bitmore? -- or --
DK: Well, I can do that, but let me just give -- you asked for some Norwichstories --
JP: Sure --
DK: I was kind of tickled by that so let me just talk about a couple of funnythings for us, maybe memories, that, from Nor -- uh, I remember I -- I was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and Sigma Nu was basically band members. Now, that's an area where I don't have much expertise in. I like to listen to music but I don't play an instrument and I don't sing well but I really like that kind of stuff.
So, anyway, I decided one day to join the Norwich band over at St. Michael'sCollege for a football game and I played the cymbals. And we didn't wear our uniforms. We had uniforms here at Norwich on anyway, we would've been tossed out of Norwich because we went out on their football field at half time and paraded around without permission and I think we all had a sip or two of something maybe, hard cider before we went and we played away out there at half time against every school regulation of course.
Now I have a memory of that because I didn't know how to play the cymbals tosave myself but I banged them together and I crossed them over and split my thumb open! (Laughs) And I have the scar today from that, wrapped a handkerchief around it and kept on playing. So that was part of one of our fun things we had at Sigma Nu.
I remember walking down to the fraternity house, we used to, all thefraternities were more like meal places because nobody stayed in fraternities at all. They were social clubs and we'd go for breakfast. While the -- we used to have to stand outside at 6:00 for reveille and then we'd walk down. There was one morning we, I walked down to -- I got two stories. I'm walking down here. One is, it was so cold that the time I had breakfast and turned around and came back, the temperature had gone 30 degrees! When the sun came over Payne Mountain and it was still below freezing outside! That was what Norwich used to be like, it used to have some cold, cold days.
Now one of these days, it was dark when you went down to the fraternity, by theway in the morning, you know, (chuckles) at 6:15 in the morning to the frat house. So anyway, this one morning going down, on the hill, going down to the armory, there's that hill -- I don't know if that's got a name or not, but -- there was a platoon of -- maybe they were rooks, anyway they were Norwich cadets and there was a sergeant counting "left, right, left, right" and about the middle of the hill I was equal -- I was going up the hill, I was about equal to this platoon and I yelled out, "to the rear! March!" and then I hustled up alumni stars and I look back there was just a mass of people going up and down and all around! (Laughs)
DK: It was kind of funny, so I think a lot of us had a lot fun things andmemories of our Norwich days. I could tell you stories for hours about all the fun things that we did. Now, one of the things I used to do, being a chemist at Norwich required a lot of labs and a lot of school time and a lot of homework, and so, by Saturday -- we still all had to do formations. We had classes on Saturdays back then --
DK: It was almost a seven day a week event here back at Norwich in those days.But, anyways, Saturday afternoons, I used to relax. I don't care what time of year it was, I'd open up the window, jump in bed, turn the opera on and go to sleep. (Laughs)
DK: I must have done that a hundred times while I was at Norwich. Yes, that wasa kind of a unique thing. So anyway, that's that story. Now, I'd really like to tell you a little bit about, more about what I do today and I can get back to my career.
Well, let me just talk about the career a little bit because you asked that. Istarted -- I went -- I got a Master's Degree at University of Vermont and I was an instructor over there for two years, and -- my wife became -- was a student, she became my wife. (Laughs) No dating until she wasn't in the class anymore, but anyway, that was one plus from going there.
But, where Norwich taught us character, gave us integrity -- developed us withinitiative -- with leadership, with all those kinds of positive attributes that played a major role in my life and certainly most Norwich graduates' lives, I'm sure. They all had that kind of development experience at Norwich. The chemistry school here was not what you would call, the top-ranked -- I'll be polite. But with all these other character-building values, added to what I did learn in chemistry, it all played a big a plus when I got to the University of Vermont where they had a serious chemistry school.
In fact, MIT would send their B.S. people up there for M.S. because they didn'twant them to get B.S., M.S. and PhD's all in the same school. And so, UVM had an excellent chemistry course that was difficult but boy, did we ever learn the stuff. It was so good, that when the DuPont recruiter came along, which at the time, the DuPont Company was like the Marines, you volunteered for them, they didn't come looking for you. (Laughs) And mainly MIT and Stanford and Harvard and that level of people went to DuPont. But another fellow and myself, both Norwich graduates, in fact this other fellow's name is Mike Masciale a good friend, we went to grade school, high school, Norwich and graduate school together. And we roomed together for a number of years and he's still a good friend. He went to DuPont also. That's because the reputation of UVM was such that --that for chemistry at the time, I can't tell you exactly what it is today but then it was really a good school. And so, that's how I got to DuPont and I -- I started as a batch chemist.
After about two years of working in the -- I was in the Freon products divisioninventing aerosols and doing refrigeration work and all kinds of things like that. They, somebody in the organization said that "that man would make a good salesman." And DuPont didn't have many sales people back in those days -- everything went by patents. They owned the patent and if you wanted to have nylon or Dacron or whatever, that's where you got it. So the salesman really wasn't a salesman selling, he was an educator at the time. (Chuckles) But, anyway that was the start of my sales and marketing career which I -- the next 35 years I spent in sales and marketing. And I finished my career as in charge of international, global marketing for DuPont. And, I was responsible for building factories, joint venture sales, building sales organizations globally for plastics and fibers. So it was quite an exciting career. A huge, huge business and it was just as exciting as can be.
But I went up through all the ranks that you have to go through to get there.And I'd say with my Norwich background I maintained my integrity and my honesty and fairness and all the kinds of character that it requires to impress people and influence people I'd say probably is a better word to move me along, as well as the customer world to buy the products and so forth. So I had a terrific career. And I heard some guy at lunch today saying "Geez, I got a big salary, but I hate my work." Well I had just the opposite thing. I didn't care if they paid me (laughs) I had such -- my career, every day I just died to go to work. And my wife can attest to that I guess. I don't know what you call it there in a -- what is it there? You know these -- your character, you're an 'A' or a 'B' or a 'C.' 'A' is very aggressive blah, blah, blah . . . 'C' is a lazy Type . . .
JP: A Type 'A,' Type 'B' . . .
DK: I was a super Type 'A.' But while I was that, I also was very active in thechurch. I was active -- I was a Boy Scout leader. I ran the Little League. I had 36 Little League teams. I --
DK: -- I'm not going to go down the whole list of things but I was on the Boardof Directors at Goodwill Industries. And, it often bothered me when people would say, "I don't have enough time." And here I am, traveling all over the world and I found time to do all these things. (Laughs) And that still bothers me today, and that's part of why I do what I do today is to try to encourage people to put a little more excitement in their lives.
And that story starts back when I was 49 years old and I was at a place ofbusiness in Chicago and we just had a big Chicago steak and cheesecake and the whole nine yards, you know. And Denny, this gentleman gave me a tour of this factory. So we're back in the shipping room and they have a scale there they put barrels on and I said, "could I stand on there? I'll see what I weigh today." I looked at that number and I was shocked! I didn't realize I had gotten so heavy and right then and there, at 49 years old, I made a lifestyle behavioral change. And I mean a lifestyle behavioral change. And I talk about that a lot in my book, Happiness: The Road to Well-being, that most people need to make a lifestyle behavioral change to get fulfillment and excitement in their lives.
Well, what I said when I go home is, "Kids, I'm going to run the New YorkMarathon for my 50th birthday." Of course that generated incredible laughter. But the first thing I did was to change my luncheon habit with customers to no more cocktails and wine with dinner. Not that I drank that much, but it was enough that in no time, I'd lost all kinds of weight, just from alcohol. It was amazing. And so I told people over and over, if you want to start losing weight, drinking a few less beers and some other things and that's a good start.
But anyway, I did run the New York Marathon. It took me 4 hours and 20 minutesand it was an 85-degree day and most people, thousands of people dropped out, it was incredible. So I ran that for five years and I got to the top 10 percent of people 50 and over in the New York Marathon which I thought was incredible, even with my shorter legs. But --
JP: That is incredible.
DK: So, now what was kind of fun with that was that in order to run a marathon,anybody that does it knows, you got to do a lot of running. And I was in Tokyo one day, in Beijing the next and Singapore the next -- all that sort of thing, and so --
JP: How'd you do it?
DK: How? That day, you just asked the question, "how do you do it?" Well you getup at 5:00 in the morning. And I'll tell you, the main street of Tokyo doesn't have a soul on it at 5:30 in the morning, or any other, Taipei or any other place. And I'd go out and run and get my five and ten mile runs in. I got my mileage in. Well, it became quite a thing and one of the biggest negotiations I did back in those days, was with Sabanci (sp?) [0:23:47] a family in Turkey. And we were at a standstill. We were selling them technology and then all the raw materials for their operation and Sabanci's (sp?) -- the people in that part of the world like to trade. I mean trading, that stuff's big. Now, they didn't argue our technology, they bought that because we're DuPont (inaudible) [0:24:10]. But for all the raw materials, which was multi, multi-millions of dollars, we were at a total standstill.
And so at lunchtime one day, I said to the group, I said, "You know, we're notgoing anywhere," so one of the fellows said, "You know what? Why don't we take a break?" He said, "How would you like to run across the bridge, go on over to Asia?" And so, I said, "Gee, that would be interesting." So they said, "Well nobody's ever done that. Run from Europe to Asia and back, non-stop. It's never been done because they don't allow anybody on the bridge." Except cars, of course. And, -- so, --- I said, "Geez, I'd love to do that." And -- they knew I was doing marathons and all that stuff and they had connections, this family -- in those days, and all that sort of stuff.
So they called up the army, and they got permission, and sure enough, at 1:00, Iwas in my running clothes and they drove me to the base of the bridge and I took off. Now there was a walkway on each side so there was a place to run and I ran over and then there's a turnaround over on the Asian side. I went around the turnaround and came back. Now the cars had a -- that were protecting me on the bridge there, the police and the army and all them that were part of this entourage, they had to go further to turn around. So I was halfway back across the bridge and what I faced was a man with a rifle aimed at my head ready to blow my head off, because their instructions are nobody gets out of car and nobody -- cause if anything happened to the bridge, that's the only connection between Europe and Asia. And it would have been, you know, that would have -- so, just as the guy, and I have a picture of this, by the way. Just as the guy's ready to shoot, the army captain jumps out of the car down about a hundred yards, he's screaming and yelling, "No, no, no, no!" Now, I didn't want to stop because I wanted to run non-stop so I kept going, and I'm here so obviously I made it all right. So that was part of that -- running experience. Now, I've run in 41 countries, and --
DK: And all that sort of thing. And -- in preparation. But anyway, when I turned55, I figured that running is not that exciting and -- one day my son said "You know, -- (inaudible) [0:26:49] his sister, my daughter said she's busy so could you join me on this bike and tie (??) thing that I signed up for. And so I haven't been on -- I used to ride a bike a lot when I was a kid, balloon tires, all that, one speed and so, I'd never been on a ten speed bike and -- so -- my wife said, "You better go out and try that out a little bit, you know and see how you do that" -- so anyway, (laughs) that following Saturday we'd go and, and then I rode this bike, I didn't have a clue how to shift or anything. And they had a water stop at the bottom of the hill and it's the only time I got the bike moving (laughs) and I didn't stop. But anyway, we did fine in that but that was the start of my biking career, and it wouldn't be long after that I entered the Mid-Atlantic Time Trial Championships, and I won it!
And I said, "Wow! This is, this is for me." And so I've been a very avid cyclistever since -- I've ridden from Burlington over here to Norwich a couple times. And they all know I bike over here. And if you look -- in the Norwich Record Magazine this month, you'll see my picture in there for my 80th birthday, I just did an 80-mile bike ride with my three children, their spouses and three of my five grandchildren. So, -- that was -- that shows in this summer as I mentioned to you a few minutes ago -- I entered the senior Olympics, National Championships and won four medals in that this year so, biking became my main sport and I, I've done a lot of it. For my 75th birthday, I -- rode from Massachusetts to Canada, 188 miles in 12 hours --
JP: Wow! That's almost two centuries!
DK: That's right. So, I've done a lot of that. Now, when I retired, I was 60years old. I had 37 years of service and at that time, I obviously had done running and I'd done biking and I figured that -- they said that you know, when you retire, you probably aren't going to live too long, if you don't do something with your life. And I figured, gee, you know -- everything, every time I was promoted or moved along or changed things or finished up running something -- I was in charge of volunteerism in Delaware, for example.
I was a commissioner then. I was on the governor's council, lifestyle andfitness and all these kinds of things. When I finished them, I moved on and left it to the new people to do. And so, when I retired I think I'm not going back. Now I did consult for a couple of months because they needed some transition. But other than that, that was it. Done. Business life done. Don't want any more of that. I'm going to do something different. But I need to really break away from this community, so I'm going to do -- I'm going to climb the highest mountain in each state.
Now, I'd already climbed, been in, on, around most of them -- the Matterhorn,Mt. Fuji, I've climbed a lot of mountains prior to this time, but now I was going to the highest point. Now, nobody's ever done that. I'm going to do something nobody's ever done. And, --
DK: -- it turned out 12 people had already done it, so that isn't going to workout. So I said, well, why don't I do a century ride in every state, which I crossed the capitol steps at the start or the middle of the thing, or the finish or something. I said, I don't know if anybody's ever done that, but certainly nobody's ever done that and climbed the highest peak in each state. And then I said, well, you know, I've done a lot of running, I like running. I'll do a 10 mile run in each state also, non-stop, you know, run. And then I said, well, let's make it the whole (inaudible) [0:31:01] I'll do a mile swim.
Now you have to understand a mile swim. Up until that time, before I decided todo this -- I have to say that my philosophy of no limitations wasn't applying perfectly. Now I could hang off an 8,000-foot cliff. I wasn't going up in water up to my waist. I had a fear of water.
I had an incident in my youth that probably generated that, but I really fearedwater. So, I said well, I'll do a mile swim. If I believe that all limitations are self-imposed, that's certainly self-imposed. So I got my wife to teach me to swim. And then I worked with the YMCA and got them to sponsor me. That I'd do my mile swim each day in the YMCA pool.
To test whether or not I was still scared of water, my wife and I were down inIndonesia. She was scuba diving and I was snorkeling. But anyway, I jumped off the boat 2 miles from shore and swam to shore. And that was fine, except for the boat guy, when they picked me up, said, "You know, there are sharks in this water." (Laughs) I said, "Why didn't you tell me that before?" He says, "Also there's big currents in here." (inaudible) (0:32:18) So anyway, that was the end of that.
So I did this great American adventure and -- that became my cornerstone for mynext 20 years -- of working with the senior community to promote health and well-being. And I look at the problems we have with our seniors today and their health. And the invisible lives that so many of them live. My whole concept is that it's better to put in some exercise every day, some physical activity and to die with heart attack or cancer or whatever you're going to die with. But two weeks after they found you have it, your wife's calling in the pall bearers. (Laughs) So, there's a couple weeks or months of suffering instead of years. And if you're willing to do the right things, eat right and do all the exercises and all these things and your chances are great.
And it really bothered me that 75 to 80 percent of premature chronic disease anddeath is caused by lifestyles of the majority of the population, the 10 percent that for no reason of their own; bad genes, car accidents, something falls out of the sky and so on, we can afford to take care of them. And my book very clearly states, Happiness: The Road to Well-being, that, a lot of people, general people in the public don't necessarily agree, but of my statement in here, it's very clear that by 20 -- between 2020 and 2025 that if they want a doctor, they're not going to have one. They want to go to a hospital, there won't be one. There will not be a healthcare system as we know it today. It's impossible. And the only way to prevent that from happening is to reduce the demand on the healthcare system.
Now, I've talked to hundreds of doctors, nurses, medical people and so forth,and not one has ever disagreed with that. So, they know what's happening and so I've written about that.
Now, I wrote this book for a couple of reasons, 1) I've lead a very excitinglife done a lot of things. I've done a lot more things I told you about or I'm going to tell you about. But, my family said, you know, why don't you write that stuff down? So your children, grandchildren, family will know some of the things. And I've had an unlimited amount of wisdom hanging in my office. Grandpa's 10 wisdoms and all my grandchildren have Grampa's 10 wisdoms.
JP: And what are they?
DK: Well, one of them is all limitations are self-imposed. (Laughs) And anotherone is, always go one more step.
JP: Always go one . . .
DK: When you go any further, one more. And when you turn that corner, you'll besuccessful, you'll have success. And you know, those kinds of things. But the book is filled with my wisdoms. And it's filled with multiple stories of all kinds of things that I've done in my life.
It's funny, a woman bought one of these books from me recently, and she says,"Oh, you were a stamp collector." And I tell the story about my brother messing up my stamps (chuckles) and had them all spread out all over. But, she says, "Well, I inherited a stamp collection, I don't want this thing. It's taking up space in my house." And just last week, she brought this great, big collection over. Now, the good news is it wasn't a very good collection at all, otherwise I wouldn't have ever accepted it. But, the bad news wasn't very good (laughs) but anyway that -- isn't that funny how that came out of the book.
But anyway, there's my story in there. Lots of funny things. Lots of interestingthings. But I also, wasn't that interested in telling about myself that much. But I was willing to do it as long as I could tie that in with the book -- that I -- the story about our healthcare system. And for two years, I studied the -- what's going on in healthcare in this country. Now I'm not a doctor and so forth, but I'm not stupid, so that when I'd read things and so forth -- being logical and being pragmatic and so forth -- entrepreneurial, I figured well I can write this stuff down and I observe it, see it. People can believe it or not believe it. And so, I work on the basis and my whole lifestyle, while I was at Norwich as well as, since has been to live a holistic lifestyle and it's like a three-legged stool.
I learned the three-legged stool up here in Vermont, because back in those days,people milked cows on three-legged stools, that don't do that anymore. And you knew that one leg's broken, the stool falls over. And so we used to joke, saying that pretty maiden there, you better kick a leg off the stool. (Laughs)
But anyway, one leg is physical fitness, second leg is mental, emotional fitnessand the third leg is spiritual fitness. And that's holding up a healthy lifestyle, well-being -- then a quality lifestyle. And that if you remove one of those legs, it goes over. Now the leg on physical fitness has to do with exercise, cause there's another three-legged stool. A diet, nutrition and adequate sleep. And so those are the three legs that I put a lot of time into and since retirement, I've been out "preaching" you might say, that philosophy.
And so I got myself very involved in organizations that I could have influenceon. And one of them is the National Senior Games Association, which I mentioned a couple times (sic). I served on the Board of Directors. I was Vice Chairman of the Board for a number of years. And, tried very hard to influence them to, not only have competitive games but to have something for people that are 50 and older that don't want to compete. They don't feel that's their interest. Fortunately, there's a lot of people that do, but there's far more that don't. And those are the people that are important to be addressing.
I lived in Delaware, working for DuPont and lived there for 45 years. So I gotinvolved in the Delaware Senior Olympics and we put together a walking club. And when I left three years ago, we had 6,000 people in the walking club.
Now when I showed up here in Vermont, I don't know who told on me but they foundme up here and said, why don't you start the Senior Olympics, getting it moving up here. And I'm president of Vermont Senior Games today. And one of the things that, of course, is exciting about it is getting all us healthy Vermonters who like to compete and all, involved. We have 20 sports and that's working fine. But I really was more interested in getting to those folks who are on the couch. And we've started a program called Move for Well-Being.
And as I mentioned earlier, well-being encompasses a whole bunch of things. Yourwell-being with your spouse and your neighbors and with your job and all that. So, having well-being is probably pretty important to you, I would think. And how do you have well-being if you're healthy? You're going to be abl to enjoy well-being. And being healthy means you should do physical activity every day.
So the program is designed around that and it's a year-round type program. So,I'm happy to say that we're pushing that in Vermont and I hope to be over here at Norwich. President Schneider, I had lunch with just recently, agreed that, I've already made a presentation to the staff and faculty here, but he wants me to do it again. Hopefully I'll do that and we'll try to promote this Move program, get more people in this community to participate.
Now, one of the things I ask people, when I talk, is what would you give upalmost everything, anything for? And almost unanimously people say, well good health. And I say, well you know, that's the thing that people do the least about. You know, that's the thing that people do the least about. It's kind of crazy isn't it?
DK: Then I asked people to write a list of what they'd like to be, where they'dlike to be, what they'd like to do, what they'd like to have. And, so, people write this list and then we look at the list and they say, you know what? You can distill that down to three things. 1) happiness, cause some people put down they want money, they want a nice job, they want to have nice meal, they want a nice family and all these kind of things get happiness. But the other two are longevity and independence, as people get older.
Now just think, what one thing can prevent you from having happiness, longevityand independence?
JP: Your health.
DK: If you don't feel good --
DK: (Laughs) If you're not healthy. So what more reason is there to lead aholistic lifestyle than that. So anyway, that's me today. I've given you my picture of who I am and what I do. And I spend every day out doing anything to promote those concepts and ideas. I'll take leadership roles. I'll take -- I'll go down and simply stuff envelopes. Do it all, to try to help encourage people.
Now, it's actually expanded a little bit further. I haven't done as much here asI did before, but it isn't just the 50-plus that need this help and attention and encouragement. But it's people of all ages. And the youth has kind of interested me quite a bit and I realize that youth is the future, as President Schneider said out in the parade ground today, "Here is our youth. They're the ones. You guys are alumni. This is the future." I firmly believe that. So, anyway, that's, that's kind of a story. Ask me another question.
JP: Ah, gosh.
JP: How has Norwich changed your life?
DK: Well, of course, many experiences have an effect on our life. And I teasepeople a lot -- at meetings, board meetings. I attend board meetings and things and people are always kind of surprised that I do have creative juices in me. I have to admit that. But I keep coming up with solutions to things that they don't see that fast. And I simply say, you know, if you live 80 years, you been through all this before. So it (laughs) it's just your experience that's giving you the ability to do this. (Laughs) Well, they don't always believe that, but anyway, that's what I tell people.
And certainly the Norwich experience, at a formative age, when your -- now whenI started Norwich I was 16. I was pretty young.
DK: Yes. I started kindergarten early. So I was young -- I wasn't able to --well for a while up here at Norwich, the drinking age was 18, but they quickly did away with that so I could never have a legal drink, if I wanted one. And but, anyway, the experiences you get when you're in your formative years, set the pattern -- set your foundation for life.
Certainly, you gain all kinds of experiences and I have to say that my militarycareer didn't include any combat and so forth. I spent 11 years between active duty and the National Guard Reserves and all that. I feel like I gave back some of that but I never was called to active duty, but you think of the Norwich graduates, that had to, that went to combat that served in the active military doing -- those experiences certainly have to outweigh almost anything that any of us can imagine and so, I think that people should know that and understand that. Well, they got into the military and all that from Norwich and I'm sure that played a major role in how they could withstand the rigors and all that, of combat.
My combat was out traveling around the world trying beat down customers (laughs)and get them to place orders was a lot different. So I think that my formative years probably had a little more value than maybe some others who served in really dramatic type of experiences. And I have to say that being forced to do things -- being forced to stay in your room and study versus -- being loose and fancy free and playing a fraternity life that colleges and so forth did. Learning discipline, making commitments to excellence, 0 dings, things right. The honor system that was here and so forth.
The other thing was that this school was a very friendly -- from the educators'standpoint at the time. Maybe it still is today, I'm sure that no one would want me to say that it isn't, but it was exceptional back then. The professors went out of their way to be friendly with the students. They were available. They encouraged it. You could talk to professors about things. They took an interest in you, in ways that probably the professors today don't have the time to do. And, when you have that kind of a relationship for superiors, it makes you, it gives you an experience for your whole life that you respect your bosses, you might say, then superiors and -- other people, in general. So that whole thing was a, no that was pretty subtle probably, but I can remember the dean of the science school there, Dean Baker there. I mean, he had an office and he'd wave you in if you walked by in the hall. I mean today I don't know if the dean waves people in his office (laughs) if they walk down the hall. But, (inaudible) [0:48:33] how you doing? What's up? And you know, after ten visits there he gets to -- and --
Now, my favorite professor was Shorty Hamilton. His name still probably rattlesaround here a little bit. He was 6'2", I guess, I don't know -- huge guy -- but --
DK: He represented Norwich. I mean, that was Norwich. That guy loved Norwich andeverything he did, he was visible here. Just a super, neat, nice guy. And what a character to model yourself from. And so, Norwich had a lot of models, role models here at the time. They probably still do. But -- when I was here, they were here and I would say that many of these role models played a role in my life.
I remember my -- math, as I said, calculus was probably the course I hated themost, but my concept, not being able to express it at the time but no limitations, I knew I had to do well in math. But I didn't do very well in math. But I worked at it, hard. And the professor of the math department, one day came to me in my senior year and he said, "You know, I'm going to run two courses in math." Now, senior year you get a couple of electives. I could have taken, romantic history (laughs) or something who knows -- anything other than a chemistry and he said, "I'd like you to -- I'm inviting you to be part of -- and I think you'd really enjoy it. And I think you'd do well." And I think, my gosh, and here I think of how I struggled in math and calculus and stuff back in sophomore year or whatever it was. And here I'm being invited by the professor -- what could I say? And one of the courses was Theory and Probability and the other was Deferential Equations. Now Deferential Equations seems like was just right for me. I loved having to put these things together and problem solve through logic and thinking and lining things up -- and that math course was beautiful for that. Now I can't say I ever used deferential equations ever for anything, but the course on Theory and Probabilities was probably one of the best courses I ever took other than Typing in high school.
Typing in high school is probably the best course I ever took. Because I canstill type 65 words a minute and I do a lot of typing on that computer. But anyway, theories and probabilities are something that I've used for almost everything that I do. It makes you sit and think about what can go right and what can go wrong. And -- you then weigh these, and so as I analyzed things I always include the adverse consequences in all my thinking. What is it that could go wrong? What is it that isn't going to enable you to accomplish this. And if you know that, then you can solve those and you're going to win. And, so most people don't think of that and so they make huge mistakes in their programming or in their lifestyles or jobs or whatever they're doing because they don't ever include thinking about the adverse consequences, which I really put on a positive basis. I look at as positive. That's positive input. That's helpful input so that you make the right decisions on the other part.
That was a -- what a lucky break to have had that experience. That's anotherexpertise at Norwich. And I'm sure that the people you've interviewed are going to have a whole list of character building and all those kinds of things. And, I won't go through it, I've already mentioned a number of those. But certainly those things play a role.
I say today about people I talk to about Norwich, I said, you know, jobs arefewer and harder to come by now. And, I lectured at a number of schools, colleges and been around a lot because they invite me to come in to do that and I see what goes on there. And if I was a boss and I had -- this guy gets straight "A's" and this guy gets straight "A's" and this guy went to Norwich and this guy went to The Queen Mary Ride or whatever you call it (laughs) those easy places -- I'd take that Norwich guy at a bat of an eye. I know he's going to give me a hundred percent. He's not going to be fooling around. He's got character. He's got what it takes. He's got what's going to make my company work or my service industry work or whatever it is that the person's looking for to hire. And I tell people that all the time. That I'd rather take somebody who I can depend on who is going to be truthful. Who's got integrity, who's got good character, who's willing to work hard and put in the extra time. That extra step I mentioned earlier. That's the person I'd want and Norwich creates those kind of people.
I've mentioned this to people here and school here. And I think that's somethingthat should be told even more some place. Sometimes, these kinds of things seem too obvious to lay out and say. This is one pluses you get from Norwich.
It almost reminds me of -- probably a bad word today, is retirement. Yourretirement checks because people have a lot of problems with them. But I often wonder, why doesn't DuPont ever spend time -- say, hey, you know when you retire you're going to be taken care of. They never mention that at all. And here, I've been out of work -- retired 20 years and they're still sending me enough money to live on every day.
Well, the same idea would apply -- if people knew at Norwich, the studentsreally could be told this by some authoritative person they'd respect, you know you're developing a lifestyle here that's going to pay you real dividends.
JP: That's interesting.
JP: That's a really good point. That is a worthwhile investment for them to make.
JP: So what advice would you give to a Norwich freshman on how to survive andthrive the way you have?
DK: Well, I certainly would say you know, why are your folks spending, I don'tknow how much it costs up here now, but $30,000 to $40,000? Why are they spending that on you to go to Norwich? And have you thought about that? And then -- there was also -- why did you come to Norwich? Why are you here? For what reason are you here? Let them try to answer that question a little bit. So they're here, spend their folks' money wisely. Right? To study hard and to give them a return on their investment and then I came to Norwich because I hear Norwich is a character building place. Norwich has this, this, this and this. And it's going to differentiate me.
I teach a course in differentiation, by the way. That's always something I telleverybody that, you know, you need to differentiate yourself. And that's really the basis for that whole concept. This guy has differentiated himself from this guy over here because he has these characteristics and this guy doesn't. He may be smart but he's smart plus. And I'd rather have smart plus. So, I think that's the differentiation. I think that every student I would tell, how are you differentiating yourself from your peers? Not only your Norwich peers, but the peers that you think exist outside of Norwich.
You do have a long life ahead of you. You're probably going to live longer thanpeople live today. You're probably going to want to work for 40 years. And instead of working at something you don't like, you probably want to work at something you like and if you differentiate yourself enough to get that kind of job, that's pretty good.
What's it all about? (Laughs)
JP: Wow. I have to ask what those four medals were for, that you just won.
DK: I won in biking and in two time trials and two road races.
JP: That's amazing.
DK: And at 80 there still was 18 competitors.
DK: And the thing that's fun is that the same people I've raced with for 20 ormore years,
they're still biking, still racing. So the competition hasn't gotten any easier,it's just the size of the group has shrunk. (Laughs)
JP: And that's national?
DK: Yes, national, that's right. So it's the top people and I have to say Iworked very hard at it. I bike every day, 25 miles minimum and I try to do a lot of 30 -- 40 mile rides and training. And I did a lot of speed work. Then, my mind was fixed that I was going -- as I turned 80, I was going to bring home some medals. And, that's what I did.
Now, I also felt that my organization, and I've got a wonderful organization inthe Vermont Senior Games. They've just got terrific people that were willing to work with me and allow me to work with them. They would have been disappointed if I didn't (laughs) didn't win something. Sometimes you put your mouth where you shouldn't put your mouth. Anyway, we were very happy the Vermont contingent did very well at the games.
But, one word that I haven't used so far which is sometimes over-worked when wetalk about Norwich and so forth, there's the word "leadership." Leadership entails a lot to things and there's natural born leadership and there's learned leadership and there's everything in between. Norwich certainly opens the eyes of anybody going here to what leadership can be and gives them a chance to learn how to be a leader, if they aren't already a born leader.
And when you're out in the world, a person that exhibits leadershipcharacteristics and character, certainly has a heads-up. So I would put that down as certainly an important role. But leadership can be misused. And unfortunately, people do misuse leadership. So, it's learning the right kind of leadership. How to be a leader that people will follow, not a leader that dictates. Because that leader is never successful. And I have to say, that I probably learned the former, in that I've always been a leader. And I've been presidents and so forth and everything under the sun. And I've always been able to call on people. Large numbers some times to handfuls. And I've rarely had anybody turn me down for -- they enjoy working with me. And I'd say that comes from again, a Norwich experience here.
How are you with the senior bucks? Do the senior bucks like you when you were anofficer? If they did, you were showing the quality of leadership that people should have, because you were disciplining them but they liked it. (Laughs) See that kind of thing, so that's how I would characterize that kind of leadership.
And, so, I would tell again -- you asked what I would say to a freshman, I'd saywell you want to develop a kind of leadership where people want to follow you. They're anxious to follow you. They know that it's going to be fun, hard work but you're going to accomplish something. Something's going to happen, worthwhile. And that's what I want to do. And that's why I want to follow that person. And that's the kind of leader you want to be. I'd share that as a -- ask me another question.
JP: Thank you. Is there --
DK: You having fun by the way? (Laughs)
JP: Yes. I like your delivery. I like your delivery. It's very, it's consideredbut it's from the hip. It's good. Do you have any relatives at Norwich?
DK: My oldest son is a Norwich graduate and he was in the Class of '81. And hewent on and got a master's in hydrogeology. And he ended up in a -- as the head of health, safety and environment for the General Dynamics Corporation. Sounds like a pretty big job. So he did very well.
My brother went to Norwich for one year. Now, I'm a risk-taker as you probablycan gather. But he was a little more risky (sic). He isn't that way now, but he was. And he buzzed the high school with an airplane when he was 16. So they wouldn't give him --
JP: (Laughs) He was flying?
DK: Yes, he was soloing.
JP: He was soloing?
DK: So, yes and I paid for the thing. $16 it cost, by the way for a flyinglesson and for an hour so I have some responsibility for that.
DK: But, anyway, they -- instead of throwing him jail -- He could've, who knowswhat could have happened for doing that. That was -- you don't do things like that. But, anyway, apparently they didn't know about it at the airport because they would've never let him fly again. But the school knew about it because he told about it and they saw the plane, and all that. His nickname was "Sky King." I don't know if you know Sky King --
JP: (Laughs) Sky King!
DK: But that's a Norwich thing. And so he couldn't get in to any school. And,so, I got him into Norwich and he was second in his class. It was a pretty big class and he said -- the military was great for him. It gave him a lot of discipline. He said, "Norwich isn't the kind of school I want to go to." He said, "I'm more of an academian (sic) and I need a serious education."
So he applies to Johns Hopkins --
JP: Geez --
DK -- and he gets in! And they transfer all his Norwich credits. So he starts asa sophomore at Johns Hopkins.
DK: And he went on to be president of their School of International Studies. Andhe had a terrific career, I won't go into all that. So we have a few Norwich people around.
JP: That's great. I would like to talk to your brother. I would like that.
DK: Well, I just had him up here and we had lunch with Rich Schneider and Caroland Shapiro hosted that. And, he probably only has 6 more months to live.
DK: Yes. So that's a touchy spot for me (laughs) as you can tell. He wanted tosee Norwich before he went. So he came up and I brought him over. And we came to the museum. And in his retirement, he formed the Museum of Financial History in New York, which is a major museum there now.
DK: And I brought him here to talk but your, what's her name, she's the head ofthe museum here. She wasn't here --
DK: -- that day but we had a couple of others that were and that's how you foundout about me, I guess,
DK: But anyway, he wanted to do that. But, he shared some things and he got tosee the museum up here, which I told him about for a long time. He's eight years younger and he had a reverse career. He started off like gang busters. Just to give you an example, he opened up Russia to financial loans. He made the first loans to Russia. And he went over there on his own when Nixon went over there and opened up Russia with Kissinger and the Russians were playing nice. This was cold war time and most people probably don't know what the feeling was and all back then. But that was remarkable, that he went on his own, and the bank people, he went to the banking people because he worked for Morgan Guaranty Trust. He was very successful. The banking world at that time, it's still young and he met a bunch of people and they had to say hello and all -- because Nixon was over there. So anyway, another year or two went by and he used those contacts to go over when he worked for another bank to start making loans.
The first major loan he made -- I'll just tell this one and I won't tell anymore -- was to Poland. And back then, Poland was going to go bankrupt and the Russians weren't going to have any part of that, but he was able to make the loans to -- he represented a hundred banks. And they didn't care about the principle, they just wanted the interest, because they don't care if you ever pay the -- just keep paying -- that's what the banks are in business for, the interest.
And they said, "Well, we don't have any money for the interest." He said, "Yesyou do." He says, "You stop subsidizing hams, meats in Poland." Even DuPont guys would stop there on the way and pick up a dozen hams because they're like 75 cents for a $30 ham back then. You know how it is, all subsidized. And so, they said, "Well we can't do that." And he said, "Well, that's your choice." So they did that and that's what's formed solidarity. That's when Lech Walesa decided that this isn't good. So my brother almost started the third world war over this thing. (Laughs) So that's why I say he started big time and then all the banks went out into international banking and he didn't have work. It was a reverse thing.
JP: Oh my gosh.
DK: But anyway, he loved Norwich. He felt it made a huge difference in himbecause he needed discipline. He got discipline. He needed work study habits. He developed those here. And he was able to grow and blossom from the Norwich experience he had, to end up having quite a, quite an interesting career.
JP: Do you have anything else you'd like to add?
DK: Well, let's see. I did make a couple of notes. I think it's safe to say, forme anyway, to say that I was the top marketing person in the DuPont Company and I was a Norwich graduate. (Laughs)
JP: That's saying something.
DK: And I'm really proud of that because I was competing against people thatwere a lot smarter than I was and all the way through. And I received comments from people that thought I was a genius. They thought I was brilliant. And what they didn't realize was I worked hard. I wasn't that smart. I worked hard because I had a work ethic that I have to say, started here at Norwich because you have to work hard here in order to get through. You weren't allowed out of this place in those days. So, I've always been really proud of that and I tease some of my friends at DuPont who were MIT guys, Harvard guys and you know, the big Princeton guys and all that.
DuPont hired back then people to be the president of the company. That's howthey hired back then. Well, I never had any illusions of that, but it created a lot of problems for them because if everybody thinks they're going to be president, there's only one and that doesn't work too good. (Laughs)
So that started marketing excellence on the basis of trying to recognize asother career channels in the company besides being a scientist. And you know, it was a big science company. A lot of PhDs and all this stuff there, so --
DK: But anyway, to get there, you know the number one chemical company in theworld. One of the largest companies in the world, to be one of the more successful persons in that company and being a Norwich graduate, I always felt that was fabulous. I was proud of that! I have to say my ego went to the moon anytime I think of that. (Laughs) That's always a good one.
I, as I mentioned earlier, a field that, or life should be led in a holisticway. I think that today we have a lot of mental, emotional issues. People have a lot of stress and they don't know how to alleviate stress. And they allow stress to not only destroy their family, but their careers and I think that people need to recognize that mental, emotional, fitness is a very key role. And that they need to do things that address that. I'm not going into -- the book tells all about that.
And then I also feel that the third leg of that stool I talked about earlier, isspiritual fitness. I'm, I go to church. I believe in church. I'm very active in church. Always have been active in church, but that's me. I'm not telling -- I don't preach that people have run and go to church to have a holistic lifestyle. I think they have to recognize, I feel that people should recognize and I certainly suggest that -- that this world has been given to us from somewhere. It's more than just some form and minerals came out to make stuff and all that. That there is a spiritual element to life and that people, to get the most out of their life should practice some form of spirituality and fit that into there. And spirituality and this spiritual fitness I talk about love. I talk about faith and I talk about spiritual practices. Now that's probably more oriented towards people who have a religious bent -- spiritual practice -- praying and those kinds of things. But anyway, I feel very strongly about this and I feel that doing these three areas combined have made a difference in my life and enabled me to serve others and to do the kinds of things that I do. And I've written a book about that and I put my right hand where my mouth is. (Laughs)
I've had a wonderful married life. I've been married 55 years. I've got terrifickids. My children are each their best friends. My wife can be given full credit for building a family life for our family. My wife has been incredibly supportive of everything I've done and of course, if you really know all the things I've done, she hasn't been in the front page of every one of these things. So, she's willing to let me go -- has helped me to accomplish a lot of the things that I wanted to do with my life and I've certainly reciprocated. I'm not going to say I've been doing that at her expense. Certainly not. But I think that today we see a huge amount of divorce. We see a lot of people who find it easy to get in arguments, blah, blah, blah (sic) and again I think Norwich gives us more strength, more resilience, more willingness to try to understand others and try to get along with others and a marriage requires that and I think if you have a happy marriage you're going to have a good life because you'll be supporting each other. And you'll both go on well.
I like your list here. It certainly includes a lot --
DK: -- a lot of things to talk about. And I think I agree that we could talk fordays here if you really wanted to. Well, I think I've probably given you enough material to keep somebody reading for a while. (Laughs) I'm happy to answer any other questions or whatever, if you like.
JP: I think you have been very clear and descriptive and I hope that people --and I would like to read your book. I'm curious now. You've got me thinking about it. I think you've presented some ideas here that I haven't heard yet, in ways that are unique and I thank you for that.
DK: Your welcome.
JP: You're obviously a hard worker but very smart. It sounds like maybe theKjelleren boys --
JP: I can't imagine what your parents were like. I don't know. But thank you.I'm going to hit stop.