When my wife, Bonnie, and I graduated from Utah State University, our commencement speaker was Gerald Ford, then vice president of the United States and the proud father of a member of our graduating class. He commented, “It was Horace Greeley who said, ‘Go west, young man,’ but it was Brigham Young who knew where to stop.”
As a native Utahn, I related warmly to Vice President Ford’s comment. My office is now in New York City, but I was raised in central Utah in the town of Kanosh. I’ve decided to share some of the lessons I have learned in my life’s journey from Kanosh to New York City.
LESSON ONE––INTEGRITY MATTERS
President N. Eldon Tanner was not only very accomplished, but he also had great integrity. In his teachings he emphasized the principle of integrity as a defining and enduring force. You are fortunate to have walked the corridors of a building that is dedicated to President Tanner’s name. I hope that you will remember his example—especially his integrity—as you go throughout the world.
I have observed the destruction of individual careers and, in some cases, great companies because this lesson was not learned and internalized. As I have tried to understand these events, I struggled until I saw the results of a Junior Achievement survey sponsored by my firm.
We asked eight hundred teenage students: “If you were certain that you would not be caught, would you bend the rules or act unethically to make more money?” Tragically, more than one-third of the students replied either yes or maybe to that question.
I suspect their values and impressions of how business is conducted were shaped by the disproportionate share of reporting on corporate scandals.
As you establish a reputation of integrity, you will sometimes have to walk away from what appears to be an easy short-term gain. Those short-term gains have a huge potential downside.
Throughout my career I have worked to build a reputation of integrity. Recently, Deloitte’s nominating committee chair told me that I was recommended as the next CEO not because of my professional and marketplace accomplishments. He said the 1,500 partners who participated in the process recommended me because I was a man of principle and integrity.
You will get ahead if you make integrity matter.
LESSON TWO––LIFE IS FILLED WITH OPPORTUNITIES, NOT ENTITLEMENTS
Although embarrassing to me now, I want to share with you some of my thinking when I first moved to New York City to join Deloitte’s Research Department.
I was twenty-seven years old, and my attitude was: I am Jim Quigley from Salt Lake City. I have a strong academic record, my clients have tried to recruit me, and I have decided to stay with Deloitte. Give me a great experience. Bring it into my office on a silver platter.
I thought New Yorkers worked nine-to-five, so I caught an 8 a.m. train to New York City and wanted to be on the 5:20 p.m. train home each evening. I worked that cadence for three weeks.
Then we had a department meeting. As managers, we later affectionately referred to this meeting as “Black Friday.” Mike Sutton, the head of our department, spoke—I felt like he was speaking directly to me. He stated that some of the managers in the department did not understand what a unique opportunity we had been given. Our two-year assignment would pass very quickly, and if we did not adopt a more constructive attitude we would miss a tremendous opportunity.
On the train back home that night, I reflected on what Mike had said and realized that if I was going to have a great experience it would be because I decided to go and get it. No one was going to hand it to me on a silver platter. Life is filled with opportunities, not entitlements.
I tell you with some pride, at the end of my two-year assignment, I was the top-rated manager out of the fifty-seven managers in Deloitte’s national office. Chasing that entitlement attitude out of my head created momentum for my career I still enjoy more than twenty-five years later.
Through the move to New York, we also discovered some additional advantages of being church members. Although we had some anxiety about moving to a new area where we had no family or friends, those concerns quickly evaporated as we were welcomed into the New Canaan Ward. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that we had four hundred friends in the New York area our first Sunday. Instead of having time for feeling homesick, we had time for new friendships and church service.
This experience repeated itself when we relocated to St. Louis, Missouri—again there were no family or friends in St. Louis, but the Chesterfield Ward warmly received us.
As I watched my Deloitte peers relocate and try to settle and establish friendships and a comfort zone for their families, I discovered that church membership provides a huge advantage. I confidently relocate my Mormon Deloitte partners. I know they will settle quickly and well.
When you have an opportunity, go for it.
LESSON THREE––MAKE FAMILY A PRIORITY
In professional services—and almost any career you pursue—you can be greeted each day with more to do than you can possibly complete. And if you are ambitious and capable, this problem never goes away. The more you produce, the more you will be given.
I enjoy the stimulation and challenge of a high-performance culture. I also want to make sure I carry my share of the load. It is easy to become caught up in the energy and positive reinforcement that challenging work can provide.
Remember that a prophet of God said, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”
And another prophet stated, “The most important work you will ever do will be within the four walls of your home.”
During my New York City and St. Louis days, Saturday mornings were precious. This was “Quigley Project Time” around the house and in the yard with my family.
We mowed the lawn, picked berries, raked leaves, created a garden, remodeled an old concrete patio, dug the trampoline pit, buried thousands of feet of dog fence wire, and it seems like we rebuilt the carburetor on every piece of gas-fired equipment known to man. All of these projects could have been hired out for a lower net cost, but the intangible benefits of working with and teaching my children could not be hired out. We followed our project morning with riding bikes, flying kites, attending a baseball game, or simply exploring the local wonders.
I worked hard for my business accomplishments, but I am much more proud of my children and my relationship with Bonnie than the title on my business card.
LESSON FOUR––PRAY ALWAYS
I know you are familiar with this counsel. I believe that when David tended his flock, he prayed for the strength and confidence he needed to face a lion and a bear that threatened in the night. In Alma 34, Amulek taught the people to pray over their flocks, crops, and households. I know that if you remain humble, and if you will cry to the Lord over your version of flocks and crops, you will be sustained and strengthened.
Find a place where you can pray unto the Lord as if everything depends on him, and then go to work as if it all depends on you. I testify to you that with the support of the Lord a boy from Kanosh can lead one of the largest professional services firms in the world.
I often close my office door on the thirty-eighth floor above Times Square on 50th Street in New York and kneel down at my desk. I pray for my family, I pray for help in my church callings, and I plead for help in tending my flock. I stand in front of my partners to speak, and I feel the sweet sustaining influence of the Holy Ghost. I find strength and confidence beyond my own.
I recognize that these lessons are simple, but we have been taught that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37: 6).
- Lesson one—Integrity matters.
- Lesson two—Life is filled with opportunities, not entitlements.
- Lesson three—Make family a priority.
- Lesson four—Pray always.
I believe these lessons, coupled with what you have learned from your families and your BYU training, will lead to success wherever your paths may take you.
Go with confidence. You have been prepared well.
Speech by James H. Quigley
Illustrations by Alanna Cavanagh
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
James H. Quigley was named CEO of Deloitte & Touche in June 2003. He earned his BS from Utah State University and is a member of the Marriott School’s National Advisory Council. This text is adapted from Quigley’s address at the Marriott School Convocation 27 April 2007.