In the delightful 1960 film “Never on Sunday,” the celebrated Greek actress Melina Mercouri portrayed a love-for-sale lady named Ilya who took that day off from work in order to rest.
The six business executives spotlighted in investigative journalist Jeff Benedict’s new book, “The Mormon Way of Doing Business,” also are never-on-Sunday workers.
Like Ilya, they need the rest.
But they also have a higher motivation.
They are commanded to take the day off by the tenets of their religion.
To illustrate the importance those executives place on taking Sundays off, Benedict tells of former Madison Square Garden and New York Knicks CEO Dave Checketts being interviewed by Disney CEO Michael Eisner for the leadership of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Anaheim Ducks.
Checketts, Benedict writes, declined the job after noticing a sign behind Eisner’s desk that said: “If you’re not here on Saturday, don’t bother to come in on Sunday.”
All of the executives interviewed for this book keep the Sabbath holy unless special circumstances compel them to attend to urgent business.
But those instances can hardly be held against them, Benedict points out, because they all devote many hours of uncompensated time to the church by serving as bishops to congregations or regional stake presidents.
The other five featured executives are David Neeleman, CEO and founder of JetBlue Airways; Jim Quigley, CEO of Deloitte & Touche USA; Kevin Rollins, CEO of Dell Computers; Kim Clark, dean of the Harvard Business School; and Gary Crittenden, CFO of American Express.
Although those executives have some leeway when situations demand that they work on a Sunday, Benedict says, their religion cuts them no slack regarding marital fidelity, honesty, not smoking or drinking, and tithing.
All of Benedict’s executives tithe faithfully. Benedict, a Mormon himself, explains that the Mormon church uses tithing funds to pay for the construction of churches and temples and to pay relief efforts and humanitarian services around the world.
He points out that the executives’ tithing goes beyond their salaries.
“Kim Clark pays tithing on all capital gains; any gains realized through the sale of stock or real estate, all interest earned,” Benedict writes.
The practice, Benedict says, gives Mormons a perspective on money that helps them avoid succumbing to greed and all the temptations and problems that follow and have landed some greedy CEOs in jail.
“An aversion to luxury spending has another benefit: It frees up these executives to focus more acutely on obligations to their companies and shareholders,” Benedict writes.
His point about the Mormon executives’ not wasting time is important because they don’t have the time to waste. Benedict portrays them as consummate time managers who find ways to get their business done and still have time to spend with their families and to perform church work.
Benedict is not on a mission with this book to convert readers to his religion.
His primary objectives appear to be to promote more understanding of Mormons and to show how some of the principles and practices by which they live and work can help people of any faith achieve success and balance in life and business.
Jan. 20, 2007