Howard Jonas, founder and chairman of IDT Corp., was 14 years old when he started selling hot dogs on a street corner in the Bronx. Today, he runs a multibillion dollar telecommunications company that is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. What is the secret of his success?
The answer, he says, is in his religious commitment and the title of his most recent book, “I’m Not the Boss, I Just Work Here.”
Jonas recalls that as a little boy his father told him how the biblical Joseph, a slave of Egypt, rose to be a master of Potiphar’s house.
Potiphar was the prime minister of Egypt. Joseph, a lowly Hebrew slave, had one of the simplest jobs in the household – sweeping the floor. Yet, taking a break when more work could be done didn’t seem right to Joseph.
One day Potiphar showed up particularly late and all of the servants had left, except for Joseph. Joseph was sweeping the floor just one more time. Potiphar realized that Joseph was a man he could trust because if this slave wouldn’t “steal” a moment’s rest from him, he certainly wouldn’t steal from the household.
“I’ve kept this Joseph story in mind as I’ve built my company,” Jonas writes. Jonas believes that people who not only accept but embrace life’s challenges are truly actualizing God’s will for humanity.
Personally and professionally, Jonas has had enormous success. “Success is not a reward,” he writes. “Sometimes it’s just a sign of having tried hard and often.”
But he also has had more than his fair share of failures as he reveals in “I’m Not the Boss, I Just Work Here.” Jonas candidly shares with readers a time in his life in which he struggled with severe depression. Jonas says he wrote this book hoping to inspire and encourage others by the example of his response to adversity and the strength of his relationship with God.