Complete Podcast Interview Transcript:
Welcome to the Purpose Nation Podcast! Inspiring conversations with Christians in science, technology and industries of the future. For more information or to make a tax deductible contribution visit PurposeNation.org.
Brad Cooper: 00:17
This is Brad Cooper with the Purpose Nation Podcast. And today I am joined by Skip Vaccarello. Skip, welcome. Thanks for joining us today.
Skip V.: 00:26
Brad thank you so much for having me.
Brad Cooper: 00:28
A real pleasure. Thank you so much. We are looking forward to a great discussion about my, I guess you could call it my second favorite place, Silicon Valley. I'm down here in Orange County now but I certainly have a heart for where Skip is calling in from today which is Silicon Valley. So we're going to have a great discussion about that and how Christianity is at work there and through the work of Skip and others. And just a real quick background about Skip. He has over 35 years of experience in leadership positions in Silicon Valley technology companies. He's been there for many many years and is also an author. He's got a great book which we're going to talk about which is "Finding God in Silicon Valley, Spiritual Journeys in a High Tech World". And he also has a organization which he is the chair of which is the Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast. Again another great organization and is there hard at work and also is very active with his church and the Salvation Army and many other things. He also has a degree from Harvard as well as an MBA from Boston University. So a very impressive background. And again looking forward to talking about things. So let's let's see if we can, I wanted to talk about your book real quick just because I know that that is still relatively fresh out there. It's a great book. Very inspiring stories of Christians in Silicon Valley, other places as well, but working in high tech in science and sort of the complex and sometimes the conflicts that they run into and just their journeys their spiritual journey. So tell us about the book a little bit what motivated you to write it?
Skip V.: 02:10
Yes well Brad thank you. The book find God in Silicon Valley what inspired me was I went back when I went back to Harvard University back in 1996. I was given a book to all of us get together who are Christians and I wasn't a Christian in college and that's a whole different story. But we got together and we were given a book called Finding God at Harvard. And then most people don't think of Harvard grad in the same sentence even though it was founded as a Christian university. And you know God in Silicon Valley in the same sentence to inspired me was the whole idea of letting people know that there are people of faith in Silicon Valley and to help inspire people to consider faith in Christ. You know I came to faith as being walk away for about 20 years or so and you know I find that storytelling is a wonderful way to communicate with people and to let them know the faith that people have. You know you can argue about spiritual things about philosophy and theology but it's hard to argue about someone's story how God has touched their lives so I believe that storytelling is a wonderful way to reach people that haven't consider a relationship with Christ and that was what motivated the book.
Brad Cooper: 03:21
That's great. Yeah and the stories as you said are great and they are a good way of giving some insight into how others have come to Christ and have lived their life. What was for you what are one or two of these of the stories in there that you would say kind of jumped out at you or maybe your favorites or if you can choose one? But you know maybe highlight one that sort of for you as you know because you've been hearing some of the stories I'm sure for many years but was there one that stood out?
Skip V.: 03:47
Well I would say there are several. I mean they all have something interesting in themselves throughout. The story of Paul Ely who's story that starts the book it's in chapter one. Paul is a guy who was trained as an engineer. He was brought up Christian and trained as an engineer walked away from faith in his whole life became really his business in engineering skills when he goes out of his business and he joined Hewlett-Packard in the late 60s early 70s and very successful there. That was when Hewlett-Packard was in the test and measurement business but Paul had a reputation for getting things done. In fact he has a philosophy that he called Ready, Fire, Aim and then that was one in which was really appropriate to many business situations in which you kind of prepare for something you try it out doesn't quite work and you and you readjust and try it again. Well Paul kind of a no nonsense guy. And when Hewlett-Packard introduced their first computer in the early 70s that was a failure and Paul was asked to take over the division and he did and he turned that around. He ended up really bringing Packard into the computer industry and became president of that division and was on the board of Hewlett-Packard and so on and during this whole period he didn't live out his life as a one of faith. Faith was really kind of remote for him. But then after he retired at the age of 76, I love his story, he said he had a dream in industry. His whole life your whole life brought before him. How much success that he had and he heard this message in his dream that God was behind all his success at the end of that dream or at the message. Paul you must find out who who God is and he went on a search over the next several months attended a church when some Bible studies started reading books including the Bible and came to faith in Christ. And I thought was interesting to me how God had reached him in a dream. The other aspect of the story that I find fascinating and very appropriate for those of us who were followers of Christ is after he hit that tree and his wife was really a second life that's his first wife who died had known him for four years. He was his administrative assistant at Hewlett-Packard and then later in life to get married. After he had the dream she said Paul I've been praying about this for a long time so his wife Gerry had been praying about Paul praying for Paul to come to faith and to me it was a very good lesson for all of us. We all know people all around us friends neighbors coworkers who were not followers of Christ. And one of the very simple but important acts we can do is pray for them and pray that they will come to know who Christ is and that was where I was one of the stories that stands up to me.
Brad Cooper: 06:34
Yeah I agree. In reading the book that was one of my favorites as well. Pretty amazing story. Almost like Paul and Paul on the road to Damascus kind of a story here. Yeah it was just amazing story and there's many of those in the book and you know we can't go through them all today but I'd love for people to put a link on our Web site for the podcast and have them check it out. But some great stories there are very inspiring and that was definitely one that stood out for me as well. Shift gears a little bit. And now if you wouldn't mind give us a little background on the Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast because that's a very successful event that you've been running as well for many years so maybe tell us a little bit about that and how they are about.
Skip V.: 07:11
And yeah with a prayer breakfast is this is we just finished our 23rd year with this as an annual event. We all sort of four quarterly events. We were in the Stanford faculty club where the idea for that really was very similar to the reason that I got involved and started writing the book. It was initially the Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast. It as formerly the Los Altos Prayer Breakfast. And the idea was to get churches together in the Los Altos area on Good Friday. But when I was asked to take it over I really wanted to change the orientation to not have it as an event for necessarily for Christians to come to be inspired. But for Christians to use it as an outreach opportunity we called the Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast. And what we did was we challenge believers to bring your friends who were not yet followers of Christ and we don't put people on the spot. We call it a Prayer Breakfast but it's really a celebration of prayer and faith and we usually have a high tech executive media company, CEO or occasionally a professional athlete someone that people can look up to and those speakers just simply tell their story. They tell her story about how God has touched their lives and is working in their lives and becomes a very inspiring event. And it's grown from when we started I guess was when I got involved about 13 years ago we had maybe a couple of hundred people and that's been sold out for one night every year. But in the last several years. And we had over 900 people sign up for the last one and so it's just amazing, inspirational, neat event is a way we like to refer to it as a way to open up conversations about faith with people. Again you can't force faith on someone but if they hear the story of someone that they look up to that they admire and they realize what's driving them is their faith in Christ it'll help them consider faith. We encourage people to open up conversations about it. So it's been a fun event to be involved in.
Brad Cooper: 09:06
It's great. And maybe you can mention some of the more notable speakers that you've had.
Skip V.: 09:11
Well yes so we've had where we had Condoleezza Rice a few years ago. We've have had Pat Gelsinger. Pat is the CEO of VMware and Pat is an amazing guy. His story is in the book as well. And Pat Pat is someone who has about 20,000 employees 6 billion dollars in revenue and Pat refers to himself sometimes publicly actually as the as the pastor of VMware and the people in VMware is his church. Pat is all out there with his faith but an incredible business leader.
Brad Cooper: 09:51
Yeah. We have Pat on an upcoming podcast. OK. I'm looking forward to that with him.
Skip V.: 09:53
He's an amazing ambassador for Christ. So anyway we've had him, we have had Henry Kaestner who is a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. And another amazing guy, Kirk Perry. Kirk is someone that came from Procter and Gamble to Silicon Valley and he was President of Brand Solutions at Google. Kirk has an amazing story about how he came to faith was really through some difficulty and tragedy in his life. The sickness of his child. Now he's to personally challenge with the diagnosis of cancer. But anyway those are examples of the some of the speakers that we've had.
Brad Cooper: 10:33
That's great and again. Great organization thank you for those. Let's go ahead and shift gears and take a step back if you don't mind. Start with you personally and your background because you do go through some of this in the book as well your own story. And so if you wouldn't mind taking us back to your childhood and just you know up to the move to Silicon Valley maybe talk about your faith background if there was any in the environment you were in. I don't know if there was any technology per se in the background that you know might have. It sounds like maybe not but maybe take us back there and find an area that brought you to Silicon Valley.
Skip V.: 11:11
Yes sure. So I'll talk a little bit maybe about my faith and my background. So I grew up in the in the Boston area I grew up in a wonderful family grew up attending a church and faith was important but it was really not central to my life that I grew up believing in God certainly. But I'm also a child of the late 60s and early 70s. I went to Harvard it was a time of great division in the country of war. Vietnam was raging for race issues in 1968. There were riots in the city. So women's rights came to the forcers and it was a very divisive time. That was a time for me as well as many of my classmates sort of slowly walk away from faith as it wasn't important. My priorities became more find getting launch in my career or find you know someone wonderful and very rich and fortunate to say that I did. I met my wife Jackie at that business school at Boston University after college. And my whole life really became focused on on my my career my success bringing up a family and so on. I came to Silicon Valley in 1979 with a company that really had the very first spreadsheet called VisiCalc and some of your older listeners may not even have heard.
Brad Cooper: 12:35
Oh yeah, I had VisiCalc. In fact I was looking the other day when I was going to interview you. I even collect some of my old technology junk from the old days and I may even have a copy of it somewhere. But yes I remember.
Skip V.: 12:45
Well it really revolutionized the personal computer industry. You know at that point there are certainly letters stand for computers. Personal computers had just come out in the late 70s but they're mostly used for games and hackers to develop programs and so on. VisiCalc was the first product that made a personal computer a micro-computer interesting and easy to use you could use it as a productivity tool. We think of spreadsheets like Excel today and are just second nature but it was revolutionary at the time. So it's fun for me I joined the two founders out from the Boston area Silicon Valley and the whole personal computer business is very very small. We had Bill Gates in our office when there was a 20 something year old guy who looked like he was about 17. And of course Bill Gates is the founder of Microsoft and it was fun for me. The two founders and myself and where we grew the company.
Skip V.: 13:40
And then from there, they bought a company that specialized in networking communications company, I become CEO of that. We sold that company eventually I became CEO of a company called the Saratoga group. We focused on training on computer based training that actually morphed into a company that had some of the first Internet based training. So had that company sold that company did a little bit of investment banking and and then join the company that we had software that would run a big commercial ships around the world so that was one of the most fun and interesting jobs I had. We had software that were set onboard the ship that would help the captain determines the safest most fuel efficient route to take. So all very different companies and you asked about my background is not in technology. I think every business that I went into, I really didn't know much at all about the domain area. I learned it and God blessed me with a pretty good business skills and people skills. And so that I helped one of those companies to grow and become successful in some ways. But with not a strong technical background I just I guess I had the ability to learn enough to help those companies and to be successful and I made sure that I surround myself with really good people that knew a whole lot more than I did. Anyway that was my night my business career. And then early when I was in Silicon Valley in the early 1980s I realized as I was beginning to achieve some success I thought it was something missing that I didn't know what that was but it just didn't seem like was enough and fulfilling lives. And later when I realized that there was a philosopher or a mathematician Blaise Pascal called that a God shaped void in each one of us and many of us try to fill that with success achievements, having a family and there are other things to give us meaning but Pascal goes on to say that the only thing that can adequately fill that void is God. I didn't realize that time but what happened is I was on a business trip once in Paris and I called home and asked my wife Jackie what did you do for the weekend and she said she went to church. Then I said you did what? She said I went to church. Church wasn't even part of our conversation. But when I came back and I started to attend with her and as I heard the message aI began to resonate with me as that began to make sense. And gradually it began to show that void that I was experiencing. And so I came to faith in Christ and it became the most important thing in my life and it made me really two interests: one is try my best to live out my faith day to day in my business. And the second thing was to help other people know who Christ is. And that's what prompted me to get involved in the Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast to eventually. Right right support interpretation and one on one conversations to encourage people on the spiritual journey.
Brad Cooper: 16:39
That's great thank you. Yes. And your point earlier is a great one for folks who are listening in who are not necessarily programmers, who how to code but have some interest just in business. And that was you know your strength as you said was leading people and leading organizations and kind of seeing the right path and as long as you have the technology people at your side who can actually do some of the hands on work you know in industries that you didn't have any experience and that was a great to hear that I'm in myself as well that was sort of I was on the business side as well so for people out there who have an interest in just an interest in technology and technology products you don't necessarily have to be hands on engineers or programmers to be involved in and to help lead in those types of situations. And then also great to hear about your personal testimony.
Skip V.: 17:30
You have yet to be familiar with it and love it. And enjoy to be part of it, and understanding the technology is does and as I said to surround yourself with really great people. You know some of the best I think found in teams people with you know a combination or complimentary skills, deep technical skills, good business skills, and good people skills.
Brad Cooper: 17:52
Absolutely. Yes. And then with your initial journey into your Christian faith and while still being in the business world and sort of the high tech lifestyle was that sort of a challenge for you at all and in balancing your family and faith? Was that something that came came naturally? Were you able to do that and what were some of the challenges in your early Christian faith there?
Skip V.: 18:19
Yeah, balance is always a challenge. And I find that with the people I've interviewed, you know I've interviewed now probably over 100 people for my blog and book and that is the one area that they find most challenging as is finding balance in their lives because any job but I would say in particular in technology is very demanding. If you could work at it for almost all day forever. Things never completely get done. So balance is very important. But I also realized early in my life when I realized the importance of family and balancing family, faith and business. Actually I don't like to refer to that way of like priorities as you know. God's first, family, business and so on. I like to think of it differently and this is something I've learned a number of years ago is to put God at the center of everything that we do. God at the center of my work, of my family and certainly of my faith. So I like to think about that way. But as I said it's a challenge in technology and any gastos to try to have some some kind of balance and for me it was important that I spend time with my wife, spend time at home. We made it clear we made a promise to each other that would have at least one date night each week which we held to. We had children. I tried my best to come home for dinner every night and I thought that family time was was really quite important. I might mean that at work later at night an interestingly I found that with many people I've interviewed with. It's the same thing, I mean get up early go to work early, you know work hard all day try their best to come home from dinner and then make me work a little bit later later in the evening so that that balance is a challenge. Sometimes you make choices in life and that could be costly for balance. And when one of the companies I had sold it to another big high tech company and I was offered I was managing a division of that organization really loved the people, love the company and I was asked to take the top executive position. But as I looked around my children were young at the time and I realized pretty much have to give my life to the company. I mean I noticed the executives were incredibly busy and so I decided not to do that. I declined the position. And interestingly I started the company and this is the company that the multimedia and eventually Internet based training and I did it with a partner primarily first as a lifestyle. This is who wanted the business to be successful. But but we also found that family, we both believe, family was important. So I would take off in the afternoons and coach my kids playing soccer and then you know and obviously continue to work so it became a lifestyle business people say with a startup. I mean isn't that a full time engaging proposition. Yes it is or it can be but we also made the decision not to make to raise the outside money. So it was our own money we were running the business the way that we wanted to run the business. And you know it became successful maybe less successful than then it could have been if we raised a whole bunch of money. But but who knows. But at a wonderful time enjoying raising my family and the business did end up being reasonably successful so sometimes in life we make those gifts to make those choices to keep that balance and then prioritize things properly.
Brad Cooper: 21:32
That's great. Thank you. And I would imagine you know for most Christians that's a challenge in any work that they do. And even in the church, as you know too I'm sure, is being involved with your church... there's there's more than enough to do with the church and you can volunteer yourself into being away from your family with your even with your own church too. So there's always that challenge and putting God at the center. That's a great way of thinking about it. Tell us, fast forward to today and tell us a little bit about Silicon Valley itself the geographic area not the mindset and the technology area but it just seems you know coming from Boston area to Silicon Valley I mean what were you sort of your initial impressions of the differences and then maybe a little bit more for people who've maybe never been there. You know we're a little bit more about it than what you know what's true about it what maybe are some myths but what was your initial impression and sort of what would you say it's like today?
Skip V.: 22:31
So my initial impression when it came was you know I came from the Boston area and you know Boston now is known as technology side certainly was a wonderful business center and even then a bit of a technology center. But one of the things the first things I noticed was maybe a little bit strange for Boston was loved its sports. There are many sports talk radio stations and so on when I came to Silicon Valley it was much less of that and I find that the heroes weren't necessarily athletes but they were high tech executives and the talk was when I would go to get together or some sort of talk was always about what's the next greatest company? what is this product doing? And it was just a very different atmosphere than I was used to. Now certainly in the Bay area this is a great sports place as well and there is there's more to talk about after at least what I was initially exposed to was all about business and the heroes were the technology leaders and the new companies and companies coming and going so.
Skip V.: 23:31
So I know that was really quite different. It was it was certainly not and is today certainly not known as a place of faith in a Christian faith that draws people from all over, draws people that are typically type A personalities that want to get things done around the world. It's a fascinating place to live and it's also a wonderful infrastructure for anyone who wants to start a company. There are all sorts of people there to help you. So there's a is that great infrastructure you know encourage young entrepreneurship. From a faith perspective, Silicon Valley is one of the least Christianized. I just use the term places in the country and I say that sometimes they hear the number thrown around than on any given Sunday there maybe four to five percent of people attend church and haven't been able to validate the studies that I've seen had indicated that there are 30 percent fewer people in church on any Sunday in Silicon Valley than on average and the rest of the country. The Barna Group in their study they categorize what it means to be a Christian and they and their study indicated that the Bay Area is 55 percent less Christianized out there an average of the rest of the country. So that's the environment that's here. But on the other hand I would say that in the last maybe 6-8 years have really begun to see a movement of God happening in Silicon Valley. And I mean some of the evidence I've mentioned how our prayer breakfast has grown but I've seen there are some churches that are expanding going to multi campus sites, and a number of churches that have fifteen hundred or more people in them. I see people like Pat Gelsinger and other other business leaders that are willing to talk about their faith. I see prayer groups popping up here and there. There's an organization called Transforming The Bay With Christ which Pat Gelsinger helped begin that organization has three goals. One is to unify the Christian community in Silicon Valley. The second is to provide outstanding service. Sometimes Christians are known more for what we're against than what we're for but to provide outstanding service really to facilitate that and encourage that through churches and then also to help plant new churches and I see new church starting that's at least a few times a month here of a new church starting up so there is a beginning to be sort of a groundswell I would call it activity within Silicon Valley so it's still the Christian community is small but it is it is tight knit and growing. And I believe him and I said one other thing that's kind of surprised me in my interviews is the number of entrepreneurs that I came across who are followers of Christ who are really building their businesses to honor Christ. I didn't expect that. And so I see a number of these businesses starting out with wonderful Christian entrepreneurs leading them. So it's an interesting place. Interesting place to be and I have a real sense that God is at work and doing something really quite interesting here in the valley. Yes geographically which I didn't didn't talk about earlier but geographically so with now and it's really kind of focused on or maybe Santa Clara County people probably heard of Palo Alto and Sunnyvale. But since then it's really grown and expanded now. Silicon Valley is sort of a maybe a broad term. There was someone that called it more of a state of mind than the geography but it does expand now. There are high tech companies in San Francisco and south of San Jose and the East Bay so it's what was initially thought of as Silicon Valley, it's grown geographically as well so it's kind of a broad term which is kind of very similar to when people talk about the Bay Area. Silicon Valley kind of synonymous with that in some ways.
Brad Cooper: 27:23
Right. Yeah. And as you said too you mentioned Boston there's other places now where and have been as you said for many years as well. But and then you talked about entrepreneurs and in Austin is you know in Texas for example is another place where you've seen a lot of startups and as you said it's great it's seeing some of the younger groups come in and I can say that you know out of college and who are starting their own companies and really being entrepreneurial like the early Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and hopefully one of those will come through here. So yes we're definitely seeing that in and around the country and not just where you are but hopefully you know Alex listening again who have an interest in it. You don't necessarily have to be in Silicon Valley these days especially right where we're so connected and and you can do lots of things virtually and there even full virtual companies now. You know even some that were based in the Bay Area that went completely virtual. Some companies they're going to reverse where they're asking everybody to come back to the office. But there are many now that where you can where the entire company in some cases is working virtually so you can work from Nebraska you know for for a high tech company that's in the Bay Area.
Skip V.: 28:36
Absolutely yeah there's more and more of that and you see some of venture capital is centered in Silicon Valley but that's changing. I saw statistics where there's you know venture capital investments being made all over the country. So it's yeah you can do it. I would encourage people wherever you are if you think about starting a business and encourage you to go do it. You don't have to be in Silicon Valley although that certainly is the center of entrepreneurship and you can but technology these days you can have a virtual company that's for sure.
Brad Cooper: 29:07
So just real quick talk about some of the executives and other technology people that you've talked to in terms of working for someone so if you start a company that's one thing you can kind of just set the values of your company. And that's I think that's probably why some Christians do it. You have a little more control over sort of the values that you kind of your company wants to pursue. Pat Gelsinger again another great example of a CEO of a very big company who's living out his Christian faith. On the other hand of course there are some companies where you know people who maybe not as familiar with it but might see something in the news or whatever about a bigger company and some policies they take or whatever it may be that gives him some hints well I'm not so sure about the values of that person or the company I mean is that something that you heard at all in your in your views with people who are there or not so much?
Skip V.: 29:59
Oh yeah. Yeah it's a challenge for really everyone that's working is to live out there for a Christian to try to live out your faith every day. I would find in my work and it seems like almost everyday to my day there is an ethical challenge of one thing or another that would come up and sometimes workign in companies in which you may not agree withyou know what the leadership team is doing or the direction of the company and so on. Although I will say that most businesses must know that if they try to turn try to run by by certain principles. But anyway for my suggestions or advice to people that are working in this environment they will say well if not I should go off and maybe I should be a missionary to join the church or to cure Christians. I don't know that I want to work in this atmosphere and and certainly for some people it becomes oppressive it's better you know maybe to get out of that. But on the other hand I would encourage more people to stay to be a faithful witness and wherever God you know has put by sort of the Bible verse. I think that's central to that and central to my life since Colossians 3:23 whatever you do work hardly is for the Lord not for men. So even if God has placed you in an environment that is challenging you know ethically challenging then you can still be a faithful witness in that environment. You're working for the company you are there to be a successful employee but you can still be a witness for Christ. And I think one of the most important things you can do in that is he's working as hard as you can be to be a great employee and to display an ethical way of doing things and whatever your position is. Sometimes it may be costly when I say more times than not to be recognized as someone who is or is really very special and stands out so you can have an influence. I think a significant influence in those in most situations in just just sort of living out those Kingdom principles day to day. So I encourage people often to stay in those environments not to leave.
Brad Cooper: 32:00
Yeah and just from a career and business standpoint the amount of things you can learn it's always great to to learn first and then if you do want to start something you know especially if you've got some executive level experience in managing different things that you don't know as well and putting teams together and working together collaboratively with teams. Seems like there's a lot of value there even if one day you do want to start your own business being in another businesses. And you know you don't you know obviously put yourself in a situation where every day you're very challenged. But yeah I you know being in some high tech companies myself you said exactly is spot on where you know you can be without being too overtly evangelizing your faith in the workplace. You know there are some situations where you do have to you know be careful but at the same time there's lots of ways you can do it without words. And when you know as you said you know as a hard worker and showing ethics and things you can do even within the workplace a trend.
Skip V.: 33:02
Yeah, what I think what we're allowed to do is to say well you're just different. What makes you different. Have them ask the question. I mean I don't. I mean I was never to have the Bible on my desk to pass or actually work. And personally I don't think that that's real real and effective. Right. But that people will come to know at some point what your faith is. I also don't think people should necessarily not talk about if they can censor themselves from doing this. Somebody asked what did you do for the weekend and they might have gone to a wonderful Christian event. We'll just talk about it to say hey I went to this great event and there was a wonderful speaker. Or maybe something a church or something that's happened in your lives. You know not necessarily sensoring yourself but you know not pushing on people that people know you know who you are without necessarily you know overtly trying to convert them in the workplace you hope that people will be attracted to you and then you can share the words and the hope that we have. You know I don't I love the Bible verse first Peter 3:15 is always be prepared to answer questions that people have about the hope you have but do it with gentleness and respect and gentleness and respect is an important part of our Christian witness.
Brad Cooper: 34:09
And you and also you may have heard this from some of the folks you talked to. There's also even within companies bigger companies especially there's usually like a Christian group a group of Christian employees and you might find and you might be surprised to find that there are other Christians even in a high tech company and you might be surprised to find some other Christians there who you can fellowship with and support each other.
Skip V.: 34:32
Yeah absolutely. And it is not, just start one. I mean do the good thing is companies are very open to all sorts they encourage and could be faith groups it could be gay lesbian group. It could be political groups. It could be almost anything and so I have had had the opportunity to visit a number of these Christian fellowship groups. I am in all sorts of companies around the Bay Area and Google and Facebook and LinkedIn and Apple and so on so that companies are really quite open to doing that. I mean obviously your or your your job is what's most important but they encourage people to get together and these other small groups. One of the Christian fellowship groups that I had the opportunity to speak at some of those to encourage people and it's wonderful. So if you're in that situation in a company you may look around and see that there may be a Christian fellowship group that's there and does not get together with a couple of folks and just start one. Usually happen you know maybe a lunchtime to get together for lunch and they may pray with each other encourage each other maybe you can do a little Bible study. So that's perfectly acceptable and encouraged in most companies.
Brad Cooper: 35:35
Absolutely. OK. And also just going back to some of the folks who interviewed in some of the themes you might have seen from them and then also just what you might recommend for those who are seeking more information about the Christian faith and the folks that you interviewed. It seems like there is a couple of things either resources or people or methods that they use that kind of are consistent. It seems like people who are gravitate to do gravitate toward science and technology sometimes it's a little more methodical sometimes it's a little more you know scientific confirmation that they need both. First were there any themes that you saw in that people you talked to in terms of what they did in terms of research or books that they looked at. And then secondly you know what would you what would you recommend?
Skip V.: 36:19
Yeah a number of. I mean there are there are people with what's always fascinating is how God works in a variety of people's lives. I mentioned Polly who had a dream some cases of some miracle that people experienced. There's a woman I write about and that was closed to suicide or on the verge of suicide and somebody prayed over her, a visiting pastor and she was healed. And then that prompted her to go off and try to help women who were rescued from human trafficking. So sometimes there are stories of sometimes miracles as a way to God works in their lives and in others like myself. I ended up doing a whole lot of research and there are others that you know the research the basis for the faith and maybe that's more of the the analytical mind. But you know after I mentioned when I started going to church with my wife I said hey there's something to this. And I began reading the Bible really for the first time and try to understand what it is. In other books there are all sorts of wonderful resources or authors like Kim Keller and Josh McDowell. There is of course the you know the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and there's lots and lots of material out there. But certainly the Bible is one to begin to just consider to consider faith. You know each one of us has a choice in faith. Faith at some point it is a choice and it's faith. You can't prove that God exists. From what I found and there are other people in the book that I write about it's just the overwhelming evidence that God is who he says he is and I write about a few scientists who the same way. There's one, Hurlbut, who's a professor at Stanford. And not really grew up in a Christian family when he was at Stanford he was on a search for truth, finding out what truth is, truth and science and then truth and faith. And he you know began a whole effort to look at the Bible, to read the Bible and he's one that came to faith so we're all in it. Search on my book, Spiritual Journeys and In the High Tech World, is the subtitle of the book and so I encourage any of your listeners if you're not sure about who your faith is you know investigate, going on a search. I think if you do that in an honest way, you'll find overwhelming evidence that God is who he say he is. There are many examples of that and one of the important ways that's come to faith. Faith is a matter of two things: One is that it can be just intellectual. OK all this evidence makes sense. It's also emotional and it's really the two together is realizing that you can have this relationship with the creator of the universe and as you begin to develop and explore that relationship through prayer through it through worship you know it just becomes part of your life. So it's both intellectual and emotional.
Brad Cooper: 39:15
That's great. Yeah and the story you mentioned is it Bill Hurlbut that's his name, Yes?
Skip V.: 39:15
Yes, that's Bill Hurlbut.
Brad Cooper: 39:21
OK. Yeah that was another was probably in a book that was probably my second favorite because for different reasons. You know in the end in the midst of being in Stanford and again in Silicon Valley and being in the medical institutions and coming at it fromhis faith. But he actually, I believe he teaches ethics I think bioethics there at Stanford. I mean you know it's sort of the hot seat but still you know coming at it from a scientist and a doctor and many others that you profiled and there's obviously many others who are in fields and we interviewed you know some in physics and other places where it's not there is no conflict in faith in science in fact for some of these people who are very analytical and scientific, they come at it as too well there is really no other solution. A lot of the theories actually break down in many ways if you know if you don't have God there as the creator of the universe.
Skip V.: 40:16
It's a myth that people think that there is conflict between science and faith. Of the people that I know, scientists that I know don't view science as a way of really discovering God, seeing how God put things together. And it's not a concept and as Bill Hurlbut said that science is more like an island in the sea of truth and science can't explain faith, can't explain as one of the other scientists that I agree with is that said that science can't tell you anything about morality you know. And so that there's not there's not a conflict as if people think there is between science and faith.
Brad Cooper: 40:53
Right. For the folks that are listening either from other areas outside of Silicon Valley or maybe some young people who are considering diving in as you did many years ago when you came across the country to join a company and joined Silicon Valley, what advice would you give them? what encouragement? what things would you say to them if they they're considering either in the business world or in tech or in science even, what would you do to encourage them and the steps they might take?
Skip V.: 41:17
Well you know find what you're passionate about. What you really enjoy doing and then take a step. I mean you know you try not to get engaged and whatever that that might be. Be willing to make a change along the way. I mean I certainly made a physical move. You don't have to make your physical move but to engage those subjects if you're still a student where the subjects that you really enjoy you get to know the teachers or professors of those subjects. Read as much as you can. You have a chance to talk to people I find it a wonderful thing to do was just sit down and you know get a chance to meet people since you are interested in science. You know people are very interested and willing to talk to you, you know sit down ask the questions ask them what motivated them. What's their interest? And these are things that can be inspiring. So the main thing is to really take those steps. If you are a follower of Christ with God putting on your mind the people he is putting in front of you and sit down talk to them. Through that whole process realize what you know what God may be calling you to do. You know I believe you know that is people who are followers of Christ. We all share the same purpose and that purpose is to glorify God in everything that we do. I believe we share the same mission and that mission is to help other people know who God is, who Christ is. Each one of us has a different calling. God puts us in different places, different circumstances and, over time, that calling changes; to explore it, to pray about it, to find out where God is calling you. So it's certainly worth taking the time to do that and to help find what your calling is. Put people in your lives that can help you. Mentoring is I think a very important aspect of this. You know if you in a field that you feel you want to be and find a mentor and that's you know somebody that can speak in your life.
Brad Cooper: 43:10
Amen amen to that. Thank you, that's great advice. What's up for you next? So you continue with Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast. You've had the book which I guess seems like has had some great response and great success. Anything coming up you want to tell us about?
Skip V.: 43:25
Well I'm engaged now in looking at the possibility of starting a venture firm with or with three other people in which we would invest in businesses that want with our entrepreneurs who really want to run their business by biblical principles. We believe that business is one of the strongholds in our culture and in some ways you hear about businesses that are that are broken that have sort of lost their ways that are unethical. But we also believe that the most successful businesses are run by these difficult principles that people can share. So next from me might very well be to get engaged in running this potentially of a venture fund to invest in businesses and entrepreneurs that really want to run their businesses by five biblical principles. So in a way that's one of the things that I'm likely to be engaged in. And I also am teaching a course at William Jessup University and course in the MBA program on ethics and business and they teach entrepreneurship as well. So it's a busy time. Absolutely.
Brad Cooper: 44:34
That's great! That's some great ventures and we'd love to hear more about that as you get up and running and hopefully we'll have you back on again and we can talk more about that.
Skip V.: 44:45
Brad, thank you so much. I've enjoyed the time to spend with you today.
Brad Cooper: 44:47
Likewise. Thank you Skip. Appreciate your time and your wisdom and just the amount of information that you have and be able to provide people with more interest in the technology and Christians who you know who may be either in technology today and how to learning how to navigate it or just have an interest in hearing about people's stories. I mean again the book is is very interesting and I encourage everyone to grab a copy of it. We will put it at a link on our site for the Finding God In Silicon Valley book and then just also we'll keep in touch. So thank you so much for your time today, Skip. God bless you.
Skip V.: 44:47
Thanks, Brad. God bless you too.
Brad Cooper: 45:23
Thank you. We'll talk to you soon.
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