I will present a synopsis of the recently updated and reissued The Mary Kay Way: Timeless Principles from America’s Greatest Woman Enrepreneur by Dallas and international business legend Mary Kay Ash at the August First Friday Book Synopsis. I am just barely into it, having skimmed it and just now beginning my deep dive into its contents. But I have a first impression that I want to share. And I start with a story from an earlier chapter of my life in full-time ministry.
From the late 1970’s into the early 1990’s, as I served churches in California and Texas, I studied the books and literature of the “church growth movement” in the way that I study business books today. And I remember a breakfast meeting I had with M. Norvel Young, former minister at a church in Lubbock, then President and Chancellor of Pepperdine University. (I served a term as Chairman of the Chancellor’s Council at Pepperdine). He left the church in the mid-to-late 1950’s, as I remember. I asked for the breakfast, and asked Norvel just one question: how did you grow the church in Lubbock, Texas? (When he left the Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock for Pepperdine, it was the largest church of that denomination in the country, and his decision drew enough attention that even Time Magazine wrote about his move). Norvel spoke with the enthusiasm of an idealist as he told me the principles he followed. As I listened, I realized that he simply did, naturally, what all the church growth experts had “discovered” years later. There had been no church growth books written yet when he served as a minister. He discovered/created/practiced church growth principles on his own — before anyone even knew to call them “church growth principles.”
I thought of this breakfast as I launched into my first read of the Mary Kay book. I’ve read a number of books about how to treat and encourage employees (Encouraging the Heart by Kouzes and Posner is excellent), and numerous good books on leadership. I now think I could have just read the Mary Kay book and learned most of what I needed to learn. I feel about Mary Kay what I felt about Norvel. She was a natural. She was a natural leader, a natural encourager, a natural company builder. She did all those right things that the experts would later discover and write about. Her values, her vision — they created and shaped her “business strategy.” Her approach was truly people centered and values based — she treated people well and encouraged them to the point that they could give their best, for their own careers, for the good of the company, and especially for the good of their customers.
I’m looking forward to my deeper dive into the book. But I already know the secret — Mary Kay Ash made all the right business decisions because of her personal values and philosophy. And now, experts are writing books that describe these principles that came so naturally to this remarkable woman. One could learn much from the self-discovered wisdom of this remarkable business leader.