Tuesday, January 15, 2013

VftSW: The Mormon Way

  I just finished reading Jeff Benedict’s  "The Mormon Way of Doing BusinessWhat a misnomer! It should be “The Mormon Way to Success” because Benedict discusses not just the business successes of “Nine Western Boys (who) Reach the Top of Corporate America“, but also the success in their family life and spiritual life.

But the title did catch my eye. I’ve been active in Petersburg Lutheran Church for the last two decades, but before I lived in Utah for three years. If you want to go to church in Deseret there’s only one church to attend.

Now I’m a safety officer in the federal government. A few years back while I attended a leadership program my beloved son began a management internship in the fishing industry. We were both reading a lot of management books and swapping them. So, as I began Benedict’s book I had my career and my son’s in mind as I read.

In Chapter 1, On a Mission. After graduating from high school most Mormon boys become missionaries. They are as Genesis 15:13 says “strangers in a strange land” for two long years. Missionary work ain’t easy regardless of where the church assigns you. It’ s foreign, exhausting and heart breaking; sort of like when I fought forest fires. I read about these boys on their mission acquiring leadership skills, self-confidence, interpersonal skills and the ability to deal with reality. I recognized how my post high school adventures as a hotshot benefited me the same. At the same time I could see how my son and his buddies had the same set of experiences and hard lessons as commercial fisherman. Only, they started at 14. The clincher to this line of thought was watching a Face Book video one of his friends posted of a holiday crabbing trip. There they were casually driving a commercial fishing boat, hustling commercial crab and shrimp pots on and off the deck, cracking crab , popping shrimp head and then cooking dinner with military precision.
Like Mormon missionaries and us hotshots, my son and his fellow fishermen have a drive that I don’t see in other people. Sadly over the holiday I’ve spoken to young people who’ve never worked hard, been hungry, faced life and death or planned for the future. They seemed a drift and unable to commit to anything of great significance.
Chapter 2 is “Playing Hardball”. I serve in a “management position” in a bureaucracy; crushing the opposition and buying them out, didn’t really seem to fit with my career. This chapter might apply to my son. But, upon reflection I am in completion for the souls and bodies of our employees. My competition is “slips, trips and falls”. I could crush this most common injury by convincing people to “Stroll, safely and safely through the woods.” I could but it out by purchasing appropriate footware and insist that employees wear it in the woods and in icy conditions. Maybe this chapter does apply to me.
The book deals with more than just success in business. Apparently, the Mormon religion stresses family above all else. A novel topic for a business management book. Many of the executives strive for the same sort of quality and improvement in their home lives as they did for their business. I know while my son was growing up my wife and I concentrated on making him the best person he could be. My son is grown, but my wife and I can continue to improve our family life.
Chapter 12 Suddenly Out of Nowhere; is a moving account of what happen on 9/11. Business-wise one thing that happen: when the twin towers fell, all the balls these busy executives were juggling also fell. While I read this part of the book, my wife and I were jostled awakened by an earthquake. We dressed, grabbed the dogs and headed for higher ground. No major damage. No tsunami. But, one of my wife’s workers was panicky that night. He intended to replace the foundation of his home someday and in the meanwhile his house was on “jacks”. A little bit more shaking and his house might have fallen over. The lesson for me is to not leave things up in the air, have my affairs in order, so I have resources to hand a crisis.
There is lots of good advice on living a successful life in “The Mormon Way of Doing Business; How Nine Western Boy Reach the Top of Corporate America.” I’ll end with a few quotes;
  • As the guy with the pen, you are managing…the room…the action and the follow through…after the meeting.
  • Then one day (the) mission president handed him and all the other missionaries business cards bearing the name of the Church. The reverse side of the card said: Expect a Miracle.
  • A middle-aged man standing at the head of the cabin, wearing a flight attendant’s apron and a name tag. “Hi…I’m the CEO of (this airline). I’m here to serve you today and I’m looking forward to meeting each of you before we land.”
  • His company and all of America had been dealt a bitter defeat by terrorist.

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