The last thing this presidential election should be about is the religion of either the candidates or the voters. Because we live in the United States of America, a country founded on the principle of religious freedom, we should neither vote for or against a candidate because of his or her religion or because of the choice we as voters have made in that regard. Rather, we should base our decisions on the kind of person the candidate is, as exemplified by the life he or she has led, as well as the qualifications they would bring to the office.
With respect to that concern, a lot is being made for and against Mitt Romney and his qualifications to serve as president. Interestingly, a book from a few years ago, which has now been updated ,can provide some important insights for the race at hand. CBS News did a a very good overview of the book and included pictures that had not been previously published. An important key worth noting here is that the pictures of the work on the stump were taken by the homeowner and had only previously been available as circulated via E-mail. I have commented before that Mitt is a very modest man and is not one to brag about the things that he does to serve others.
Jeff Benedict wrote the first edition of The Mormon Way of Doing Business in 2007, and told the stories of eight successful individuals from the business world who also happen to be Mormon. Here is an excerpt from the Author’s Notes section of the book, which explains who the individuals are that he wrote about:
They are: David Neeleman, founder and CEO of JetBlue Airways; Kevin Rollins, CEO of Dell; Jim Quigley, CEO of Deloitte & Touche USA; Dave Checketts, former CEO of Madison Square Garden Corporation; Gary Crittenden, CFO at American Express; Rod Hawes, founder and furmer CEO of Life Re Corporation, the world’s largest independent life reinsurance company; Kim Clark, dean of the Harvard Business School; and Clayton Christensen, a leading Harvard Business School professor and consultant to Intel, Eli Lilly, and Kodak.
This book is not an expose on these men, their companies, or the Mormon Church. Rather, the book examines what makes these executives tick and reveals their habits and secrets to success.
The author goes on to explain that at the outset of his book project, he created a series of standard questions that would help him learn about the background of each individual and help reveal their “character traits, personal habits, and business practices.” He then wrote a personal letter to each one explaining the project and seeking his cooperation.
I was fortunate to meet Jeff around the time the first edition of the book was published and have enjoyed being on his mailing list over the years. This has allowed me to follow his writing career and keep up with the various projects he has undertaken. In the mailing I received yesterday, I learned that after Mitt had won in Iowa and New Hampshire, Jeff’s editor, Rick Wolff at Warner Business Books, had called and asked him to add a new chapter for a new edition of the book.
Jeff has provided some interesting details on a couple of stories we have written about one about Mitt helping clean up after the San Diego fire in 2007 and and another here, where Mitt shut down the offices of Bain Capital to take everyone to New York to help look for a partner’s daughter. Here are a few words from Jeff’s mailing:
My personal favorite story in the new chapter involves a couple that nearly lost their home in the San Diego wildfires in 2007. Reed and Kathy Fisher were forced to evacuate after their property and the exterior of their home were scorched. They have a son that is friends with Mitt Romney’s son Matt, who lives and works in San Diego. One day Fisher got a call from Matt, offering to help clean up the damage.
A few days later, Fisher pulled up to his house and spotted a black SUV parked out front. Two men with earpieces – one in a suit, one in plain clothes – were standing on the sidewalk. They looked like Secret Service agents.
Then Fisher spotted Matt and a couple other guys working to remove a giant tree stump from the front yard. One of the guys was presidential candidate Mitt Romney, on his knees, wearing goggles and using a chain saw. He had been campaigning in southern California and had spent the previous night at his son Matt’s place. When Matt told him he had plans to go help a friend, Mitt volunteered to go along.
Reed was speechless. Then one of his neighbors walked over. “Is that who I think it is?” the neighbor said.
“That’s Mitt Romney,” Fisher said.
Last night I told these stories and did a book signing at Pequot Library in Southport, CT. One woman who bought a book said she’d never vote for Romney. Never. “But,” she said, “those stories changed my mind.”
Then a guy behind her said essentially the same thing.
Romney’s friend Bob Gay said that if you really want to understand Mitt you have to see him from all these different angles. Of course, it’s hard to see what the campaign won’t show.
The point of the book is not to promote religion in any way, in fact Jeff points out that he has received lots of feedback from non-Mormons about the value of the book in understanding how a person’s religion informs the way they do business and go about life. And that, kind reader, is the point!
I would add that we can expect the same kind of impact on what we can expect Mitt to do as president. Based on the experience of the individuals Jeff writes about, the last thing he would do would be to use his position to promote his religion, perhaps a hidden fear of so many Evangelicals who oppose his candidacy to become President of the United States.
With all of the slanderous accusations about Mitt’s character from opponents in both political parties, this book promises to help bring some truthful insights to the discussion.