This morning I attended the 20th Annual High Tech Prayer Breakfast which they claim as the largest networking event in Atlanta, GA with 1600 people in attendance and also, the earliest, beginning at 6am till 9am (I've been up since 4:30am to get there on time.:)
I had no idea what to expect, but since my friend, Curt Cain of iHealth Technologies, Inc., had invited me, I wanted to attend. We grew up in the same church in Manhattan Beach, CA and recently re-acquainted when he and his wife invited other CA "ex-pats" to a dinner this past week.
I have always felt a sense of family with other Christians because no matter how much time passes, there's a spiritual bond which ties us together no matter where we are, or what has happened. I really don't know how some people get through life without a spiritual component to their lives when I find such encouragement, support, and Godly love in my Christian life experiences. I know I couldn't make it living out here in Georgia without my faith in God and Christian friends.
This morning's prayer breakfast was very inspiring to me on many levels as a result.
Back home in Los Angeles I have attended numerous tech conferences, networking mixers, seminars, and parties, and not once have I ever seen a spiritual aspect included. What a refreshing difference to meet CEO's, CFO's, Venture Capitalists, CTO's and more who are also following God and willing to be visible in this public realm by inviting men and women who have never heard the gospel to attend.
In light of Steve Jobs' passing, who I consider one of America's most brilliant innovators, it was very moving to hear Keynote Speaker, Walt Wilson, speak. He had been an early employee of Apple serving as the Managing Director of U.S. operations "as the company grew from just a start-up to a globally-recognized corporation with $5 billion in revenues."
Talk about a powerful way to start the day!
The host committee had gathered together to pray for Steve, his family and the prayer breakfast the night before when they heard the news of Steve Jobs' death. Walt said he had prepared a speech a few months back, but threw it all out at 3am. He had planned to share what it was like working in Silicon Valley, working at Apple and his career, but felt what he had originally prepared wasn't appropriate after last night.
Walt called Steve "My Boss, my Mentor, and my Friend" who had a thirst for excellence and never measured his success by market share.
He said Steve always wanted to the be BMW of the tech world and then revealed BMW really only held a 3% market share which was surprising to hear.
What set Apple apart is it was always about computing, not the computers. It was about advancing technology more than anything else. Walt said Steve didn't care what anyone on Wall Street thought, or anyone else for that matter, which drew a laugh from the crowd. Walt also shared Steve always protected his family from his own celebrity which I admire.
Walt shared only one personal anecdote of his experience working with Steve because it was difficult to speak so recently of someone he obviously cared deeply about. I would quote it, but want to preserve some of privacy of the breakfast.
However, I will share with you briefly Walt's story because it was fascinating to learn he had only graduated high school and served in the United States Marine Corps for three years which must have been great preparation for working alongside Steve Jobs.:)
He is currently "the founder and chairman of Internet ministry Global Media Outreach (GMO). He was previously co-founder, chairman and CEO of Exclaim Technologies, Inc., an applications service provider in the business-to-business Internet market. Before that, he served as senior vice president and corporate officer of the consulting group Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC), a $16 billion, U.S. global corporation with 600 offices worldwide, employing over 100,000 people."
Pretty impressive, eh?
I've been attending numerous events this week; the Georgia Production Partnership monthly lunch meeting where I heard Comedy Writer, Dave Drabik of Fine Line Productions, speak; Inc and United Healthcare's holistic living panel seminar entitled Helping Businesses Grow Strong featuring Michael Tavani, co-founder of ScoutMob (mobile deals for the local curious), Sean Cook, CEO of Shop Visible, and CEO of Petrus Brands, Inc, Chris Morocco (Shane's Rib Shack and Planet Smoothie) which were great.
I've been meeting more CEO's and influential people here in Georgia faster than ever happened in CA. Hard to believe I've really only been here a little over two months after all.:)
Have to admit though, although these other speakers were fantastic, informative and entertaining, this morning's breakfast spoke to me on a deeper level due to the spiritual component. When you consider Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Address on living and know he died last night, it really puts life into perspective.
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life," he said.
"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
Here is his speech in its entirety because it's so powerful:
As Walt continued to speak, he challenged us to think about where we will spend eternity. If you died today do you know? He reminded us of the verses, Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." and John 3:17 "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
If you've wanted a fresh start, forgiveness of your sins, or simply to surrender your life to God because whatever you're doing isn't working, please consider asking Him into your life. He will answer you when you call upon Him. "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." I Peter 5:7 and “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13
I hope you do, but if you don't now, know God is there whenever you need him. I can tell you He has brought me through so much. I was personally touched to learn Steve Jobs was adopted since I'm a birthmother who has a 12 year old son I placed in adoption at birth. It was one of the hardest experiences to live through in my entire life.
When I see TV shows like Parenthood which recently mocked the sacredness of this experience in an episode called, "Hey, if you're not using that baby;" or see Glee's portrayal of a birthmother plotting to get her adopted baby back; or hear Grey's Anatomy recently wove an abortion subplot into their storyline, it grieves my spirit.
So much so, I wrote Ira Schreck of Schreck Rose Dapello Adams & Hurwitz, LLP who represents Jason Katims, to express my dismay. Here's a highlight to help you understand why this image of birthmothers and adoption in general needs to change:
"As a birthmother of a twelve year-old son I placed in adoption at birth, I was shocked and devastated to see one of the main characters asking a teen-age mother if she could, “Buy your baby.”
I admire how sensitively Jason Katims has handled Asperger and am writing to request he and his staff present adoption in the same sensitive manner. Children in adoption are not bought and sold. They are not cavalierly “given” away. They are thoughtfully, painfully, delicately “placed” with a family a birthmother considers will offer a better life for their child they feel they cannot offer at the time of their pregnancy.
Please consider the ramifications of treating a human life so callously. Parenthood has the opportunity to present a side of adoption rarely seen on TV if done correctly. I would strongly urge Jason and all those involved with the success of this show to consider researching adoption through such resources as: www.birthmothers.org and www.adoption.com before writing any further episodes."
I have yet to hear a response and have avoided other episodes because that one was too painful. But to those in entertainment who write stories about adoption and/or abortion, consider this thought if you will...
What would the world be like if Steve Jobs' birthmother chose to abort him rather than choose adoption? He has impacted all our lives and he's just one of many talented, creative people who was adopted.
Here's a list of more famous adoptees and birthparents I bet you didn't know about:
Andy Berlin - entrepreneur: chairman of Berlin Cameron & Partners
Anthony Williams - politician
Aristotle - philosopher
Art Linkletter - comedian
Bo Diddley - musician, performer
Buffy Sainte-Marie - musician, actress
Carl-Theodor Dreyer - Danish film director
Charlotte Anne Lopez - Miss Teen USA
Christina Crawford - author
Clarissa Pinkola Estes - author
Crazy Horse - Lakota war chief
Dan O'Brien - decathlete
Daunte Culpepper - football player
Dave Thomas - entrepreneur: founder of Wendy's
Debbie Harry - singer
D.M.C. - hip hop artist
Edgar Allan Poe - poet, writer
Edward Albee - playwright
Eleanor Roosevelt - First Lady
Eric Dickerson - athlete
Faith Daniels - news anchor
Faith Hill - country singer
Freddie Bartholomew - actor
George Washington Carver - inventor
Greg Louganis - athlete
James MacArthur - actor
James Michener - author
Jean Jacques Rousseau - philosopher
Jesse Jackson - minister
Jesus - adopted by Joseph the carpenter (Bible)
Jett Williams - country singer and author
Jim Palmer - athlete
John J. Audubon - naturalist
John Hancock - politician
John Lennon - musician
Langston Hughes - poet and writer
Larry Ellison - entrepreneur: chief executive of Oracle
Lee Majors - actor
Leo Tolstoy - writer
Les Brown - motivational speaker
Lynnette Cole - Miss USA 2000
Malcolm X - civil rights leader
Mark Acre - athlete
Matthew Laborteaux - actor
Melissa Gilbert - actress
Michael Reagan - author, talk show host
Moses - Biblical leader
Nancy Reagan - First Lady
Nat King Cole - singer
Nelson Mandela - politician
Patrick Labyorteaux - actor
Peter and Kitty Carruthers - figure skaters
President Gerald Ford - politician
President William Clinton - politician
Priscilla Presley - actress
Ray Liotta - actor
Reno - performance artist, comedian
Sarah McLachlan - singer
Scott Hamilton - figure skater
Sen. Paull H. Shin - politician
Sen. Robert Byrd - politician
Steve Jobs - entrepreneur: co-founder of Apple computer
Surya Bonaly - figure skater
Tim Green - football player/commentator
Tim McGraw - country singer
Tom Monaghan - entrepreneur
Tommy Davidson - comedian
Victoria Rowell - actress
Wilson Riles - educator
Andy Kaufman - actor
Clark Gable - actor
Faith Ireland - judge
Hank Williams, Sr. - country music legend
Kate Mulgrew - actress
Joni Mitchell - singer
Roseanne Barr - actress
Mercedes Ruehl - actress
Strom Thurmond - politician
Notice the list of birthparents is much shorter? There is so much stigma surrounding adoption perpuated by past and recent Television shows, and the media, which I hope will change soon. Use the resources I mentioned in my letter, adoption.com and birthmothers.org to write truthfully about us please.
It's also time we acknowledge there are three choices when faced with unplanned pregnancy, not just two - abort or be a single parent.
If Steve Jobs adoptive parents hadn't first adopted him and then supported, loved and encouraged his individuality just think how all our lives would be different today. Embrace the third choice and allow Steve Jobs passing to signify more than just his technological advancements, but also the power of love.
Because when it all boils down to it, every human needs to feel loved. Even those who are unwanted, unplanned, or inconvenient.
Give life, give love a chance.... Adoption is a choice too. It's extremely painful, but you get through it and your child then has the opportunity to be a world changer, perhaps another Steve Jobs. You never know, right?
And that's all she wrote. Have a great day. I was planning to cover the Driven Music Conference, but felt compelled to share this with you first after my experience this morning.
Today's the day though!:) Stay tuned.