Inspiration at ASAE 2017: Pay It Forward

By Association Adviser staff • August 22, 2017

Chef Jeff Henderson - photo courtesy of Food Network
Chef Jeff Henderson – photo courtesy of Food Network

Inspiration is driven by change – the desire to change, to see change and bring about change.

That was the message from executive chef, Food Network star and best-selling author Chef Jeff Henderson, who delivered the Closing Keynote at the 2017 ASAE Annual Meeting.

Henderson knows all about being inspired to change. He grew up poor in South Central LA, and bad choices and decisions led him to deal drugs and serve 10 years in prison. But it was in prison where he found his passion for cooking. Prison was also where he realized that he had natural talents and gifts that could make him a success. He knew how to build a brand and manage a diverse group of people – all skills that would serve him well later in life.

Henderson said that while being in prison was a low point in his life, it was also where he experienced his “aha” moment. He was inspired and his spirit was fueled in one of the darkest places in one of his darkest times.

In prison, Henderson learned to cook, but he also learned about how successful people think and act from others who were serving time, including some former Wall Street execs.

Today, Henderson has served as the executive chef in some of Las Vegas’ hottest hotels, including Caesars Palace and the Bellagio. He’s taken the lessons he’s learned, not just as a chef but also a leader, and passes those skills on to others, especially young people.

He said one of the most important things we can do in life is pay it forward. Give back to others. He said we’ve all been inspired by someone in our lives, so share that inspiration and knowledge – that will be the legacy you leave behind.

Who inspires you? Tell us who and why in the comments below!