By Dick Stark
RightStar bought a full table at the High-Tech Prayer Breakfast held this past Wednesday at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner. This is an amazing annual event with more than 800 attendees. The speakers this year were Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware and Ken Harvey, former NFL linebacker. Here’s a brief report:
Ken Harvey kicked things off with a summary of his life—how he saved enough money to allow him to attend a community college in Oakland, CA, and then accepting a full scholarship to Cal Berkeley two years later, which resulted in a first round (twelfth overall) draft pick in 1988, playing for the Phoenix Cardinals and the Washington Redskins from 1988 to 1999. Ken credits his success to prayer. He stated that he asked God for a plan and a vision. He said that to him it felt like God was saying, “You have a purpose, you are worth something.” Ken said that he was blessed with “God given athleticism and earned his way into the NFL by working hard. Of course, he also credited his college girlfriend (now wife) for this transformation.
Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, the 5th largest software company of the world said that he is the senior pastor to more than 22,000 congregants (employees) every day. Like Ken, he came from humble beginnings, a farm in Pennsylvania, where a good score on an exam landed him a job at Intel and acceptance to Stanford. This “Cinderella” career at Intel lasted 30 years and earned him the number two spot there as its first CTO. After Intel he moved to EMC as President/COO for several years before ending up as the CEO at VMware.
Pat said that as a business leader, the most important thing he does is, “establish and live the values of the organization.” He calls VMware an EPIC company: Execution, Passion, Integrity, and Customers. The end result of this set of values? Epic people and customers.
Pat told a story about a quota club sales event he held in Hawaii. On one day the entire sales team refurbished a local Boys/Girls club as a community project. At the end of the trip, one of the cab drivers refused to accept any fare, saying, “most of the visitors come to Hawaii to take, you all came to give.”
Pat reported that as a Christian in 1980 he moved from “lukewarm” to “hot” for God. He said that was the most important decision that he every made and should be the most important decision for anyone. Pat pointed out that Christian CEOs in Silicon Valley are a rare breed, and said that he and his wife are “out there.” Although Silicon Valley has the highest wages in the nation, it is also the least “churched,” and has a very low charitable contribution rate. Pat happily pointed out that he embarrasses his CEO friends by giving away 50% of his earnings.
Pat closed with good advice for all:
- Build a mission statement for the rest of your live.
- Prioritize. God, family, work not work, family, God. How do you build this type of life? By building a life that mirrors your priorities.
- Mentors. Pat’s mentor, was Intel’s icon CEO, Andy Grove. “Having Andy as a mentor, was like going to the dentist and not getting Novocain.”
Pat summed things up this way: “As a leader, everything we do is on display every day. I will lift up my organization. I must be encouraged, so I may bring encouragement. Let your workplace be the place that you honor God every day.”