Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Joseph in Egypt

“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without integrity, you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”
Warren Buffett

I would imagine most of the people reading this blog would be familiar with the story of Joseph in Egypt. For those of you who haven’t heard the story it goes something like this.

Joseph, the second youngest and favorite son of the Patriarch Jacob, was given a dream that his brothers would bow down before him. His siblings, tired of the brat, decided to kill him. On the way to do the deed, one of the brothers decided it would be more profitable to sell him as a slave to some passing Arab traders. The Arabs sold Joseph to a rich important man living in Egypt. He proved such a diligent and trustworthy person that the rich man put him in charge of his entire house. The rich man’s wife, liking what she saw, tried to seduce Joseph. Rather than betray his master, Joseph ran off as fast as his feet could carry him. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” The wife told her husband that she had been raped by Joseph. Our innocent hero ended up in jail. There he interpreted dreams for his fellow inmates. One of them, a servant of Pharaoh, after being released from prison, remembered Joseph when the wise men and magicians of Egypt failed to interpret their master’s dream. Joseph was paroled. He correctly interpreted the Pharaoh’s dream and provided him with wise counsel that simultaneously carried Egypt through seven years of famine and made Pharaoh the wealthiest man on the planet. While Pharaoh retained his status as Chairman of the Board, he was so impressed with Joseph that he made him Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Egypt, Inc. In this position Joseph was able to save his entire family group from starvation. When his brothers were kind of sort of apologizing to Joseph, he blew it off stating, “You meant it for evil. God meant it for good.”

Amy Rees Anderson, as a divorced single mom, built a start up, MediConnect Global, into a powerhouse cloud based medical records service that she eventually sold for $377 Million! Along the way she discovered that while any sufficiently bright person could be trained to write code or make a sales call, it was nearly impossible to develop character in her employees. They either got it while growing up or they didn’t. Therefore, she started emphasizing integrity in the hiring process over the normal requirements like proper credentials and experience. Here is the list of what MediConnect was looking for in new employees from one of their ads.

Integrity: Always do the right thing for the right reasons.

Respect: Treat everyone as if they matter equally because they do.

Attitude: Act with positivity in both words and actions.

Dependable/Trustworthy: Do what you say you will do.

Flexible: Adapts to change and receives and shares ideas for improvement.

Open & Implements Feedback: Ongoing willingness to improve.

Goes the Extra Mile: Go above what is expected in every task.

After hearing this list in one of her Youtube lectures, I came up with the obvious question, “How do you tell who is lying about being a person of integrity?” For the second time I sent off an email to Mrs. Anderson. For the second time she demonstrated respect to a random stranger pestering her with questions by providing an answer in less than one business day.

Here is her answer.

“When interviewing we used personality profiling tests to help us get a sense of honesty called the CPP by Wonderlic. It doesn’t work perfectly but it is a good indication to start with. Also, doing reference calls is an important piece of that as well. Then once the person is hired that is when you truly get to know their level of integrity – watch their behavior and see if it matches what they say their values are. Behavior ends up being the best indicator.”

Time to tell the truth: If you were an employer wouldn’t you want to hire people, like Joseph, who meet all the criteria enumerated on the MediConnect list? I promise you that if you managed to find somebody like that you would create a job out of thin air to get them and keep them on your team. Believe me. I have seen it. At a Government laboratory I watched a janitor, a contractor employee who could hardly speak English. Unlike his buddies, he didn’t stand around gossiping and complaining, while taking cigarette breaks. After he had finished his assigned tasks, he worked at sweeping out an entire building that was about five eights of a mile in length. Eventually, he finished this Herculean task; I believe for the first time in the sixty years of its existence. One of the shop foremen was so impressed that he wore out his management until a special entry level job was created for this particular individual. He honored his patron with continued excellence in filling his new role as a facility mechanic.

Remember, God was working for Joseph because Joseph was working for God. I like to think that I have walked in a few of the MediConnect virtues most of the time and all of them at least some of the time. I know for a fact I have failed to walk in all of them all of the time--not even close. Still, I have tried to take the high road even when betrayed by circumstances. Twice in my career I suffered a serious injustice at the hands of wicked men. On each occasion, I heard a friend speak Joseph into my life. They told me, “They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Even though I was angry that these events happened and in the second case I couldn’t see how God could possibly use what happened to me for good, I heard those words deep down in my soul.

I am here to report that on both occasions Joseph was spoken into my life, God redeemed the situation in ways I couldn’t have possibly imagined. If you are walking the MediConnect virtues, the universe is watching. God has a way of setting things right over the course of a lifetime. If you don’t live your life with integrity, it is unlikely that you will find success and fulfillment in this world. Even if you do, the universe is watching. Psalm 73 assures us that God has placed these people on a slippery place. Their end will be their destruction. This is not your concern, but keep on watching. Over the course of my lifetime I have seen the wicked in my workplaces come to a bad end too many times for it to be coincidence.

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